Energy Drinks and Alcohol a Toxic Combination for Drivers

Red bullEvery day, 28 people are killed in DUI accidents in the United States. Nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunk-driving crashes every year, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths. In Maryland, 130 people were killed in crashes where a driver had a BAC of .08 or higher, representing nearly 30 percent of all traffic deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing that 2.1 percent of Maryland drivers self-reported driving after drinking too much, higher than the national average of 1.9 percent. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is still a national and statewide issue, and the number of people consuming energy drinks as “mixers” with alcohol has increased in recent years, leading to a higher number of drivers on the road who believe they are less impacted by their alcohol consumption.

Energy Drink Mixers Lead to Higher Levels of Impairment

Energy drinks typically contain caffeine, other stimulants, or often both, as well as sugars and other additives. Mixing such drinks with alcohol, such as Red Bull and vodka or even rum and Coke, is a dangerous practice that can result in drinkers not realizing how impaired they are. Caffeine may mask the depressant effects of alcohol, but does not actually increase the rate of metabolism in the liver, meaning that a person may feel less drunk because they are not as tired or drowsy, yet they are actually just as impaired. The CDC reports that drinkers who consume mixed drinks including energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink, and are twice as likely to report riding with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. Another study showed that mixing caffeine with alcohol produces a desire to drink more than those who simply drink alcohol. A University of Florida Study showed that college-aged bar patrons who consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol were three times more likely to leave the bar highly intoxicated and were four times more likely to intend to drive after leaving the bar. Another study found the same results: drinkers who consumed both caffeine and alcohol are more likely to drive than those who drink alcohol alone.

What About FDA Standards?

In November 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required manufacturers of pre-mixed Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages (CABs) such as Four Loko to reformulate their products due to the dangers of including caffeine and other stimulants in alcoholic beverage. As a result, most pre-mixed drink manufacturers ceased including stimulants in the beverages, which is a good start in reducing the risk of over-consuming these dangerous cocktails. However, it is still a common practice to mix alcohol with caffeine and other stimulants, and it remains just as unsafe.

Need DUI or DWI Help?

If you are arrested and charged with a DUI in Maryland, the sooner you seek legal help, the more likely you are to avoid a drunk driving conviction and keep your driver’s license. Contact the experienced DUI attorneys at the office of Alpert Schreyer, LLC at 844-632-7274 or contact us online for a confidential and free consultation to discuss your case today.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.