Drunk people do not understand their real level of intoxication

If you went in to work after having a few drinks at lunch, how would you feel? As you sat in your cubicle with many people around you who were completely sober, would you start feeling like you were really intoxicated? Would you worry that it was obvious to everyone around you? Sure, you only had three beers, but you would probably feel drunk.

Now consider how you would feel if you had three beers at a holiday party where everyone was severely intoxicated. Imagine that some people have passed out from drinking too much, others are playing drinking games and doing shot after shot and still others are so out of it you know they will not remember the party in the morning.

In that setting, you'd probably feel fairly sober. Your three beers would be relatively mild, and you may be the soberest person in the house.

This is not just a theoretical example. Experts actually surveyed people who had been drinking and found that the peer group they were in made a massive difference in how drunk they thought they were. They tended to compare themselves to those around them. Some people who actually were quite drunk -- who may not pass a breath test -- felt like they were sober just because others were more drunk than they were.

This phenomenon could contribute to drunk driving, as people who honestly think they are sober enough to drive get behind the wheel, despite the fact that they're over the legal limit. When this dangerous behavior leads to car accidents, those who suffer injuries need to know what legal options they have.

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