Why Senior Citizens May be at Risk for a DUI in Florida

March 4, 2020

DUI and the Elderly

The criminal justice system uniquely impacts our large and growing population of senior citizens. Florida ranks amongst the top in the nation with more than 20% of its population 65 years and older. Due to population aging, elderly drivers represent an increasing proportion of our drivers.

As “Baby Boomers” are retiring and enjoying the perks that a lifetime of hard work and experience can bring, they are becoming more at risk for being pulled over. You may have been a safe driver your whole life. Maybe you’ve had an occasional speeding ticket, but you’ve never been arrested. No matter how cautiously you drive, there are several factors that may increase your chances of being charged with a DUI as you get older. As we age, our bodies undergo vast changes. And these changes can affect our driving.
How exactly does aging affect our driving ability? Below are some of the most common changes we undergo as we age that affect safe driving:
Increased Reaction Time – As we age, brain connections break down, slowing down our physical response times. Even if you are physically able to react, reaction time increases with age. The consumption of alcohol further deteriorates reaction time.
Vision & Hearing – Seeing and Hearing are two senses that take a hit during aging. Our ability to see and hear clearly diminishes as we get older. Without strong vision and hearing abilities, seniors can miss important cues on the road. Medical conditions like Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma can make things even worse. While vision is obviously crucial to safe driving, hearing can also be just as important. If you miss audible cues such as the screeching of tires, honking of horns or sirens of an emergency vehicle, you may fail to notice a hazardous situation until its too late.
Slower Mental Processes – Aside from the typical “senior moments” that age can cause, there are severe medical conditions that are more common in the elderly and can affect the brain’s ability to reason. For example, Alzheimer’s and Dementia can cause confusion or disorientation. If experiencing some effects from Dementia, you could be pulled over and your confusion could be misconstrued by law enforcement as impairment from alcohol or drugs.
Stiff Muscles & Joints – Conditions that affect joints and muscles, such as arthritis, are much more common in the elderly. These ailments can make it difficult to maneuver a vehicle and react quickly when necessary.
The Effects of Medication on Alcohol Consumption 
 The increased rate of health issues as we age results in the increased use of medication. Some of these medications warn against driving while taking them. Seniors who take multiple medications may experience the same effect as if they were driving under the influence. Many medications impair our ability to drive and can amplify the effects of alcohol.
Medications that commonly cause problems when mixed with alcohol are:
Blood Thinners
Anti-anxiety medication
Diabetes medication
As Our Bodies Age, Our Metabolism Slows  
Even if you are in good health and not taking any medications, the older you get, the less tolerant you become to alcohol. As we get older, our bodies metabolize alcohol more slowly, which allows it to remain in our system longer and more of it enter into the bloodstream. Our bodies carry less water, which means any alcohol consumed is more concentrated. We simply become more sensitive to alcohol as we get older. These changes to the aging body cause seniors to become visibly impaired by drinking far less than younger adults.
If you are a senior citizen who has been a safe driver your whole life, never broken the law and are now being charged with a DUI, you deserve to have top-notch legal representation. At the Law Office of Brian H. Mallonee, you will find creative, intelligent and resourceful representation from an attorney who will work diligently for you.
Criminal Defense Attorney Brian H. Mallonee has helped seniors throughout Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie Counties navigate the criminal justice system. His legal practice in Fort Pierce places a strong focus on DUI defense. Mr. Mallonee understands what it takes to get you the best possible result.
Tell us about your case when you complete our contact form or call (772) 464-1991 to schedule your free consultation.
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