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AAA: Don’t Drive Hungover this New Year's

Intoxication doesn’t end the morning after the celebration


As people prepare to ring in the New Year, many will choose to indulge with some alcoholic beverages. In addition to reminding people of the dangers of driving under the influence, AAA also reminds motorists of the dangers of driving with a hangover.

Alcohol is involved in more fatal crashes than any other single cause. 30 people are killed each day in alcohol related car crashes, that’s one person every 50 minutes, and someone is injured every 90 seconds in the United States.  “Driving hungover can be just as dangerous as driving after having a few drinks,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England. “After a night of drinking, many people will wake up with alcohol still in their blood, and/or they will wake up tired and disoriented.” It takes much longer for the body to eliminate alcohol than most people think.

According to the AAA DUI Justice Link, a resource to help reduce impaired driving, the only thing that will sober somebody up is time. Your blood alcohol concentration or BAC can continue to rise for about 30 minutes after you have stopped drinking. On New Year’s Eve many will celebrate into the early morning and could still be dangerously impaired the next morning when they wake.

All states in the U.S. (except Utah at .05) have a maximum legal BAC of .08, however you can be charged with impaired driving at lower levels. Many states allow for observed behavior as evidence when a law enforcement officer performs standardized field sobriety testing to observe impairment due to alcohol or other drugs.

Risks of Driving Hungover:
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, hangover symptoms peak when the blood alcohol concentration in the body returns to near zero. Symptoms can last 24 hours or longer, and can include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Poor or decreased sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Vertigo
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Increased blood pressure

“We wouldn’t advise that anybody drives with any of these symptoms, regardless of whether they are recovering from a night of celebrating or not,” continued Moody.

AAA works year-round to educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving in an effort to reduce traffic-related crashes and injuries. In a recent survey, AAA found that most drivers (94%) perceive driving after drinking as very or extremely dangerous. However, almost 10% admit to having done so in the past 30 days. AAA encourages all motorists to Take the Pledge to drive drug- and alcohol-free. If you consume marijuana, alcohol, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive.  And if you’re going to drive, then don’t consume these substances. If you are taking prescription medications, visit Roadwise Rx to learn if they can impair driving.

Link to short video explaining the elimination of alcohol in the body

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 61 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.  Operating 18 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit

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AAA Northern New England is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.