While we, in north Texas, usually enjoy a relatively warm winter, there are still those times when the thermometer dips below freezing. And if you have been drinking in cold weather, it would be best to stay inside where it is warm. You will also want to think twice before imbibing during the tailgate party when the weather gets frosty. As you will see, alcohol and cold weather don’t mix.

Alcohol’s Impact on Your Body

Alcohol causes a number of things to happen to your body that keep it from reacting appropriately to the cold.

  • Increased blood vessel dilation causing increased heat loss
  • Decreased shiver response
  • Makes you feel warmer when the opposite is true
  • Causes sweating which also decreases body temperature
  • Alcohol is a vasodilator; a substance that causes the blood vessels to enlarge. This is the opposite of what the body would normally do in the cold which is to constrict the blood vessels to conserve heat. As the blood vessels dilate, an increased amount of blood flows through the body, initially making the skin feel warmer. But then the blood begins to lose heat and the body cools more rapidly than normal.

With cooled blood returning to the heart, the body’s core temperature begins to drop which is the first step to hypothermia.

The Judgment Factor

Alcohol also famously blunts judgment; a poor choice becomes more likely the more alcohol is in the system. Poor judgment may lead people to think they should walk home to keep from driving while under the influence. However, this may not be the best answer. If extremely drunk there is the possibility of passing out on the way, leaving someone on the ground in freezing conditions.

Impaired reflexes are another problem when trying to walk on ice and snow. Emergency rooms report seeing an increased number of injuries from falls in which the patient had been drinking. You can imagine what could happen to a drunk driver in such conditions.

Be Proactive.

Although you should plan how to get home ahead of time if you are going out to drink, this becomes even more important as winter sets in. Before heading out to party, check the weather reports. Is the temperature dropping? Is there the threat of snow and ice? Make doubly sure you have a ride home in a heated vehicle.

The winter holidays are upon us with all the attendant festivities. A time when parties are plentiful and people are of good cheer. There are numerous times when a ritual toast will be offered in the name of Christmas, family, friends, or the New Year. Some will partake to try to ease the stress of the season. Others may drink to blunt the depression sometimes felt at this time of year.

In all cases, the Doug Wilder Firm hopes you keep this article in mind when drinking in cold weather. If you made a poor choice and now have a DWI/DUI citation, give us a call. We can help.