Does Hot Weather Cause Drunk Driving?

summer drunk drivingDrunk driving is one of the most studied of criminal activities. It’s fascinating to researchers because it crosses social and economic lines, and is often committed by people who would not dream of breaking the law in other ways.

Which is not to stay that all the questions about who drives drunk, and why, have been answered. We don’t always know at what point the decision to drink and drive is made, and what could have prevented it. So we keep looking at the conditions surrounding the crime – driver age, time of day, month and year, and other factors.

One factor that does make a difference is weather, believe it or not. A study by Insurance Media LLC found that as many as ten times the number of intoxicated drivers can be on the roads on warm days than are driving on cold winter days. This applies on regular work days as well as weekends and holidays.

What’s going on?

In climes with distinct and cold winters, the higher temperatures can bring on a festive mood which might lower inhibitions. Perhaps the urge to party while it’s nice out trumps good judgment.

Another factor is the effect of alcohol combined with heat. Sun exposure and heat can heighten the effects of alcohol. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, just as sun and warm air do, which means that by the time you get behind the wheel, you can be feeling the effects of dehydration, which are similar to those of alcohol, and will compound any mistakes you make on the road. Thus, you’re more likely to be arrested if you’re drunk and dehydrated than just drunk.

So beware when it’s hot out: you are more vulnerable to alcohol, so it will take less to get you to the point at which you’re unable to drive.

Stay cool. And sober. And out of jail.

Enjoy the last days of summer.