Medical News Today recently released an article with an interesting finding: the choice of soda used to mix a drink can impact intoxication. The finding, from a study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, was the result of an experiment reviewing the impact of intoxication when people mix alcohol with diet versus regular soda.
The researchers used a small group of 16 people. These participants drank one of three beverages: Squirt with alcohol, Diet Squirt with alcohol and a placebo. The participants then took a breathalyzer test and were asked a series of questions. These questions included an estimate of how drunk the participant felt and whether or not they felt able to operate a motor vehicle.
Findings of the study and impact on New York DUI charges
On average, those who consumed alcohol mixed with regular soda had a breath alcohol content (BrAC) of 0.077 while those who mixed their drink with diet soda had a BrAC of 0.091. The difference was significant, with those who consumed diet soda having a BrAC reading 18 percent higher than those who drank regular soda. While the participants clearly had an increased BrAC reading, they reported feeling no difference in intoxication between the two.
What do these findings mean? For starters, the choice of mixer could mean the difference between a driving under the influence (DUI) charge and a warning. Although the BrAC is different than a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading, a high BrAC can lead to a blood test.
In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC over 0.08. If the BrAC readings in the study were to result in similar BAC readings, the choice of mixer could make the difference between a DUI charge and a warning.
Why the difference? The explanation goes back to simple biology. Regular soda contains sugar. When going through the digestive process, the body treats sugar like a food item. As a result, the body digests the drink more slowly, allowing the liver time to filter out the alcohol. Diet soda contains a different type of sweetener, one that the body does not treat as food. Instead of treating the drink like a food item it passes the beverage through the digestive system at a faster rate, allowing the alcohol to enter the bloodstream. As a result, the diet soda consumer’s BrAC reading was significantly higher not because the diet soda speed up intoxication, but because the sugar in regular soda slowed it down.
These findings are intended to help consumers make informed decisions. This is particularly important since the participants did not report feeling any difference between the two drinks, which likely puts them at an increased risk of drunk driving.
Serious impact of DUI conviction
Those charged with a drunk driving crime should take the allegations seriously. If a charge leads to a conviction, the driver could have difficulties finding employment and housing in addition to facing criminal penalties. Contact an experienced Florida DWI attorney to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected.