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Safer Senior Citizens: Discussing DUI Laws Before it's an Issue

Age creeps up on all of us. Everyone probably has a moment of clarity every now and then, when they bend over to put on their shoes and hear the clicks and pops that come along with a life well lived. In addition to failing joints, there is a related legal issue worth addressing here that most people don't like to approach too directly; either because they don't want to embarrass or hurt the feelings of a parent or friend, or they don't feel it's their place to point it out at all.

The issue I'll be discussing in this blog is about alcohol affects us differently as we age.

Less Awareness Leads to Greater Risk

There are some senior citizens who may be less aware of their own declining faculties than the people around them, who observe and interact with them often. It's the nature of this kind of slow decline that can also lead to driving situations that are dangerous for both the senior behind the wheel, as well as their passengers in the car and other drivers on the road. When your vision or hearing is not as good as it used to be, you may not have the quick reaction time that would help you to avoid unexpected obstacles or the unpredictable driving behavior of others.

Alcohol and How it Affects the Elderly

The state of Arizona has specific driver's license renewal regulations in place that are meant to help keep our senior citizens on the road safely. Any driver over the age of 65 will need to renew their license in person and pass a vision test every five years. However, there's still another possible layer to the already risky situation of a driver who might be between those required renewal tests when their vision or some other sense begins to worsen. And that layer is alcohol.

Make no mistake - drinking and driving is dangerous for everyone. But for senior citizens, having a drink or two and driving could be even more dangerous. The concerns of adding alcohol to conditions that come with the normal aging process are clear, but there's also the possibility of a slowed metabolism that can increase the effects of alcohol. Meaning someone who was able to drink a beer with lunch with no problem ten years ago may now find themselves driving while over the legal limit without even realizing it. If they get pulled over for any reason, they may find themselves arrested for a DUI.

Medications Impact the Effects of Alcohol

It also helps to be aware of any medication that your elderly loved ones may be taking regularly. The dangerous combination of prescription medication and alcohol is another serious concern in these situations. Senior citizens are more likely to be taking medications that were legally prescribed to them, but which could have a negative reaction with any level of alcohol that would amplify the effects of both.


Arizona will hold senior citizens who are arrested for driving under the influence to the same level of strict legal standards they maintain for anyone who is arrested for a drunk driving offense. It's very important for anyone who feels this could be an issue for their grandparent, elderly parent or other loved ones who are getting older to talk to them about it. One unpleasant conversation could make more of a difference than you know, and keep your loved ones driving safely for as long as they're able, while also looking out for both their best interest and the safety of everyone else on our Arizona roads.

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