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3 ways stress can contribute to a DWI

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2018 | DWI Defense

When you get stressed out, it is wise to seek out healthy outlets to alleviate this stress and refocus your mind. Yoga, meditation and therapy are just a few options for mitigating the stress in your life and finding balance. Many people do not have the impulse to indulge in such measured responses to stress, though—in fact, you are not alone if you battle the temptation to respond to stress by indulging vices.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it is common for people to use alcohol as a short-term solution to the daily stress they encounter. If you are one of these people, you might be surprised when the habit leads to a DWI charge. 

1. Alcohol tolerance

It is true of many substances that your tolerance improves the more frequently you partake. This is true of alcohol, too, so people who drink often are likely to build up a tolerance that makes them more susceptible to a higher blood alcohol content with fewer indications of drunkenness. Regardless of how drunk you feel, when you are under stress, you might drink to excess and become too drunk to safely drive. 

2. Denial of inebriation

Stress, in combination with a higher alcohol tolerance, can make it easy to deny the extent to which you are inebriated. It is completely possible, though, that your BAC is above the legal limit even after a few drinks. If you plan to drink at all, the best policy is to secure a designated driver so that there is no risk of getting a DWI. Stress can obscure your natural awareness and make you feel soberer than you are.

3. Field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests have never been a perfect science—or much of a science at all. Still, if law enforcement pulls you over and requests that you submit to these tests, you will likely find that there are many factors beyond potential inebriation that will impact your performance. Stress, of course, may be one such factor. You may perform poorly on a field sobriety test because of stress rather than any alcohol consumption.


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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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