Driving While Hungover


Spirit Sciences USA is "dedicated to making a positive contribution to society by pioneering a new category of health products into mainstream retail that focuses on harm reduction for adults who are exposed to health risks associated with alcohol and tobacco consumption." The company's "philosophy is rooted in strong belief that harm reduction, combined with proper education and awareness, is an effective and honest way to deal with alcohol and tobacco-related public health issues."

Sounds pretty good, except for the overly broad interpretation of "public health." But yesterday I received a press release from Spirit Sciences calling for the criminalization of "DWH"–"driving while hungover." The company reports that "Sweden's National Road and Traffic Research Institute found that an eight-hour-after hangover decreases visual/spatial skills, including driving ability, by 20% or more, thus making it just as dangerous of an alcohol-induced impairment as the actual intoxication."

That's rather vague. Exactly what level of "intoxication" is a hangover equivalent to, in terms of impairment? And what sort of hangover are we talking about? A mild headache and dry mouth? Or a pounding head, blurred vision, and extreme nausea?

It's certainly plausible that a hangover could affect your ability to drive, but the same is true for a wide range of conditions, including a cold, inadequate sleep, distraction, depression, and anger. The wisdom of criminalizing each possible factor–as opposed to penalizing people when such conditions result in careless driving–is open to question.

But not by Spirit Sciences, which makes "an all-natural supplement" called RU-21 aimed at preventing hangovers and "is in the final stages of developing a technology capable of detecting a hangover and measuring its severity" for use by police.


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  1. You’re so cute, Mr. Sullum. Your perennial claim that drugs shouldn’t be regulated not just because people should be free to make their own choices but because addiction is a myth promoted by weak-willed nanny-statists is always fun. And here, am I reading right? Do you want drunk driving — at any level of intoxication — deregulated, on the principle of no harm, no foul? If someone gets behind a wheel drunk out of her/his mind, is it their right to drive until they hit someone’s property or run someone down?

    If you get rid of policing will you grant that the same impulse that makes people think they can drive safely after chugging a six-pack of Zima may also diminish the deterrent effect of a no-DWI clause in an insurance policy? Should it be left to the insurance companies to start conducting spot checks of their policyholders, maybe by putting RFID beacons in cars and doing their own patrols? Or leave it to them to mandate Breathalyzer- or hangover-detector-based ignition locks in policyholders’ vehicles? Or would policies and enforcement be up to the individual operators of each privately-owned road?

    Wouldn’t the private sector arrive at the same prohibition on drunk driving everywhere except demolition-derby tracks and maybe some Deathrace-2000-inspired theme roads?

  2. It’s not rocket science. Hangovers are mostly due to dehydration. Drink lots of water, take a couple asprin, and some B vitamins.

    Better yet, lay off the shit-sauce totally and smoke grass.

  3. “Does anyone else find those “Chaser” commercials as repugnant as me?”

    No, Joe, not quite as repugnant as you. But, if it makes you feel better, I find Hillary Clinton more repugnant than both of y’all put together.


    Hey, you said it…

  4. I think you’re missing the man’s point, koppleman. How’s driving with a hangover worse than driving while talking on the phone, doing your make-up, being in a rage due to your spouse, or for that matter being just a really bad driver?

    If you kill someone by driving drunk, you deserve a manslaughter charge with lots of prison time. However, many people drink a couple of beers and are perfectly good drivers, way safer, in fact that a bad sober driver, even when he has already got done with his phone call.

    Right on, Nice Guy, the roads would be really safe if everyone was stoned. Just slow and easy, we’ll get there when we get there.

  5. blurred vision?….maybe it’s not a hang-over….maybe the person is still drunk

  6. The drinks are on me.

  7. I have actually tried this stuff.

    It is crap.

  8. I have actually tried this stuff.

    It is crap.

  9. Does anyone else find those “Chaser” commercials as repugnant as me?

    “I can’t believe I have to go to work today. I’m so hungover!”

  10. I have actually tried this stuff.

    It worked pretty well for me.

  11. Russians advocating DWH laws in America. What a laugh. Could their motivation be to create a ‘problem’ that they just happen to have the ‘solution’ for (those gawd-awful, crumbly, bogus little pills). Bolshoi.

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