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Maybe you're not tired, so you can stay up and drink more. Or it could be that you feel clear-headed, and don't think you're drunk. Or perhaps with more energy comes more risk-taking behavior. Either way, scientists have linked the consumption of highly caffeinated energy drinks (EDs) with higher incidents of drunk driving.
So at this point, the why of the matter might not be as important as how to avoid a DUI associated with energy drinks. Because it turns out that just drinking more energy drinks, even without alcohol, can increase your risk of a DUI.
Researchers interviewed 1,000 college students assessed annually via personal interviews. In year six, 1,000 participants (550 females, 450 males) concerning their "frequency of drunk driving, ED consumption patterns, alcohol use, and other caffeine consumption." After accounting for several background risk factors for drunk driving, the study found that more frequent energy drink consumption was associated with more frequent drunk driving.
According to researchers there were two main pathways to increased drunk driving:
The second path is a bit more mysterious, and suggests that "mechanisms other than the promotion of heavy drinking by EDs are involved in promoting drunk driving."
Authors of the study caution parents, clinicians, and college administrators to be mindful of any style of ED consumption, whether with or without alcohol. Those in positions of authority should warn students about the dangers of consuming EDs with alcohol, and should consider extreme ED consumption as a warning sign that students might be at high risk for alcohol-related consequences like drunk driving.
And clearly everyone should know the dangers of drunk driving by now, whether ED-related or not. If you've been charged with a DUI, contact an attorney immediately.