The Importance of Understanding the Stages of Alcohol Intoxication/ November 28, 2011
Stages of Alcohol Intoxication
In almost any prosecution for DUI, the prosecutor’s case is premised on the progression of alcohol intoxication. Alcohol acts as a depressant of the central nervous system, similar to a general anesthetics. The stages of alcohol influence run from barely noticeable (cheerfulness) to gross intoxication (risk of death).
Delayed Information Processing
Police and prosecutors are taught that when a person consumes alcohol, the first thing affected is their reason and ability to process information. A corollary of this is judgment and memory problems.
Slow Reaction Time And Diminished Fine Motor Skills
This is followed by slowed reaction time and diminished fine motor skills. An example of the latter could include finger dexterity issues, such as problems dialing a cell phone or removing a driver’s license from a wallet.
Large Motor Skills Affected
Next, the person’s gross motor skills are affected. Examples of this include swaying, staggering, stumbling, slurred speech and general confusion. Most people accused of DUI are reported to be at this stage of intoxication. An experienced DUI attorney may still discover some viable defense avenues.
DUI cases become much more difficult to defend when the person charged is reported to have been at the stage of intoxication where they are unconscious behind the wheel, vomiting, or are just so impaired that their ability to process information is next to nil.
Police Reports Can Reveal Inconsistencies
Understanding the stages of alcohol intoxication is critical for a DUI attorney. There are often things within the police report that are inconsistent with even the beginning stages of intoxication. Even so, the officer claims that there are symptoms of gross motor incoordination.
Consider whether the officer claims to have read the person their Miranda rights, and notes in the report that the person fully understood their rights, was willing to waive those rights, make a statement without a lawyer present and even consent to a breath test.
If the person’s judgment and reason are intact sufficiently to make those important decisions, then maybe they weren’t really stumbling around and slurring their speech, or if they were, maybe it was due to something other than alcohol.