Checkpoints for Aftercrime: Hangover test could nab groggy motorists


August 10, 2004, 05:31 PM
Checkpoints for Aftercrime: Hangover test could nab groggy motorists

Sharon Kirkey
CanWest News Service/ August 9, 2004
"Morning after drivers" who climb behind the wheel after tying one on the night before could soon face the prospect of roadside checks for DWH -- driving while hungover.

A U.S. company says it is in the final stages of developing a test capable of detecting, and measuring the severity of hangovers, even after a person's body has eliminated all traces of alcohol.

Spirit Sciences USA, the Los-Angeles-based makers of RU-21, a dietary supplement pitched as a tonic for alcohol-related problems, from premature skin wrinkling to "post-intoxication syndrome," says its hangover test detects acetaldehyde, a product produced when the liver breaks down alcohol. Developed by Russian scientists, the test is about four to six months away from release, says Mandy Barton, director of non-profit campaigns for Spirit Sciences. If it works, the company plans to donate more than 200 of the devices to U.S. police departments.

"If driving with a hangover ever becomes an offence, the test could earn the same legal status as today's Breathalyser," the company says in a statement.

Meanwhile, the company has launched a website -- -- "to serve as a destination for the first public awareness campaign of its kind in the U.S." about the dangers of driving while hungover, Barton says.

While a hangover detector may sound far-fetched, scientists in Sweden have developed a test that measures two different hangover "markers," including methanol, another alcohol formed during the fermentation process that takes far longer to break down.

Studies have shown the severity of hangover symptoms rises in lockstep with methanol levels in the blood (and drinks that contain more methanol, such as certain brandies and whiskies, are more likely to produce hangovers).

In addition, British police have begun testing a hand-held "impairment detector" that can tell, via reaction times and concentration skills, whether a person is impaired by drugs, hangovers or too little sleep, according to New Scientist magazine.

But one of the world's top hangover researchers says it is still not clear just how much the "residual effects" of a night of drinking impairs thinking and mentally controlled motor functions the morning after.


Dr. Robert Swift, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University in Providence, R.I., says hangovers vary from person to person. Some people experience hangover symptoms after just one to three drinks, while some heavy drinkers aren't bothered at all.

In addition, says Swift, well-designed experiments are still needed to tease apart just what could be impairing a person's driving.

"Is it the lack of sleep, is it the alcohol or is it the fact they stayed up late the night before?" says Swift. "I'm not sure how you would test them."

Pennsylvania State University researchers once tested the effects of a hangover on a group of male managers.

The men drank enough alcohol to reach a blood alcohol level of 0.10 the night before a day-long test of complex decision-making skills. (In Canada, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08). The hangovers didn't impair their work performance -- even when they reported "considerable hangover discomfort."

But, an article published four years ago in the Annals of Internal Medicine warned that people with hangovers "may pose substantial risks to themselves and others despite having normal blood alcohol levels."


Swedish researchers who tested hungover drivers on a special road course found volunteers performed an average of 20-per-cent worse compared to when they drove the course without drinking the previous night. Their driving ability was diminished for at least three hours after their blood alcohol level reached zero. What's more, the paid subjects were motivated to do well: They were docked money for every pylon they knocked over.

The tyranny is starting to get beyond ridiculous folks....I'm asking all the Republicrats to wake up and start fighting the slavemasters.

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August 10, 2004, 07:22 PM
The NTSA Alcohol Detection, Apprehension and Prosecution program is pretty much the standard in the U.S. It requires trainees to complete 16 hours of academic training and another 16 of conducting opservations and tests of subjects who are actually under the influnce in a very controlled manner. By the time they hit the road thses LEOs will have actually conducted actual field tests on subjects who were validated at various levels of consumption. It is a pretty decent program and a real contribution to traffic safety.

This technology is interesting, but I wonder how it compares to a well trained human.

August 11, 2004, 01:28 AM
This is bull********. They're trying to bring back Prohibition, is what it is. They couldn't print enough money to pay me to enforce something like this.


August 11, 2004, 04:31 AM
I know a big, high carb meal makes me sleepy, and sleepy drivers are blamed for a lot of accidents...maybe they can develop a test kit for driving with a belly full o' carbs:scrutiny:

August 11, 2004, 04:42 AM
If they're having problems discerning between being drowsy and having a hangover I think that indicates how insignificant their studies are. Nothing a large cup of coffee couldn't fix in either case.

That website is a good laugh, I hope noone takes it too seriously.

August 11, 2004, 08:00 AM
That website is a good laugh, I hope noone takes it too seriously. I've found that ignoring nascent looniness most often leads to that looniness becoming the law of the land, or at least the social "norm." Certain people simply can't get enough of the latest fad of gobbledygook.

Welcome to THR, Hillkillr--interesting handle there! :D

TFL Survivor

August 11, 2004, 08:51 AM
If they ever invent a test for rude/inconsiderate drivers the courts will become log-jammed.:eek:


Carlos Cabeza
August 11, 2004, 12:22 PM
Entirely too many laws ! I can't remember them all..............................:rolleyes:

August 11, 2004, 01:04 PM
if the test of fitness to drive is not based on chemical intoxication or metabolic byt products of that intoxication (as in a hangover), but on a simple eye/hand coordination test. THAT may capture not only intoxication, but also fatiuge, inattentiiveness due to whatever cause.

But it'll 'prolly not work out that way. Checking for the metabolic byproducts will be seen as a 'more pure' means of examining driving fitness, and another club to use against an increasingly subservient population.

August 11, 2004, 02:18 PM
This is a solution in search of a problem.:scrutiny:

August 11, 2004, 03:25 PM
Too many laws? Just remember that it's exactly like the movie THX-1138. Work, Consume, sleep.

Greg L
August 11, 2004, 03:31 PM
That website is a good laugh, I hope noone takes it too seriously.

Actually it just mirrored an article from a newspaper that required paid registration to view it (original link at bottom of mirrored article).

I figure that this will be MADD's next great crusade once they realize that the general population doesn't want the limit below 0.08 (if that far).


August 11, 2004, 04:40 PM
I have no porblem with .08, .06 doest sound that bad, actually.

August 11, 2004, 08:06 PM
I think .08 is quite satisfactory. No need to drop the level any further.

The big problem is getting the surly road ragers in check. Then, let's talk about the dangers of cell phones and driving.

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