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Glass Shape To Blame for DUI?

by | Sep 5, 2012

Maybe it’s the shape of your glass.

New research indicates that drinking from a curved glass creates an optical illusion, causing us to imbibe to a greater degree.

Ok – Washington D.C. DUI lawyers know that blaming your glass isn’t likely to be an effective defense in a court of law. However, it’s an interesting theory, and it could be helpful if it causes you to pause and think about how much you have actually had to drink before you get behind the wheel.

The research was conducted by the University of Bristol’s School of Experimental Psychology in Britain. Researchers examined results from 160 young, healthy individuals, comprised of both students and faculty members, as well as members of the general public. All the subjects were classified as social drinkers, and not alcoholics.

They were divided into eight groups to drink either a beer or a lemonade from either a curved glass or a straight glass. While they drank, they were provided an emotionally neutral nature program (so they would have more to do than simply focus on drinking).

The scientists conducted two sessions for each participant, and videotaped each.

When researchers tallied up all the results of the sessions, they found that those drinking from curved glasses consistently drank considerably faster than those who were drinking from straight glasses.

The team wasn’t sure why, but they did have a theory: A social drinker is going to naturally pace him or herself while drinking. These individuals are going to judge how much they’ve had to drink by looking at how empty or full the glass is – particularly once it has passed the halfway threshold. The curved glass created an optical illusion that made drinkers believe they had consumed less than they actually had, or were drinking slower than they actually were.

And of course, the more intoxicated one is, the worse judge of it they become.

The experiment showed it didn’t matter if the subject was consuming alcohol or lemonade – they consistently consumed it faster in a curved glass.

This theory was bolstered by subsequent research that showed groups of people photographs of varying levels of fluid in different types of glasses. The vast majority of people misjudged the halfway mark on glasses that were curved, as opposed to glasses that were straight.

Given that the vast majority of individuals involved in fatal DUIs have a relatively high blood alcohol content, learning to more effectively pace yourself may be key.

Of course, not drinking before getting behind the wheel is the best way to avoid a D.C. DUI. But it’s not illegal to consume alcohol before driving, as long as your blood alcohol content is below 0.08 percent. The higher your BAC, the higher the legal penalties you may be facing.

So being aware of you glass shape might be one way to pace yourself and reduce your alcohol consumption. Other methods (which are by no means full-proof) include:

  • Drinking water in between alcohol beverages. This keeps you hydrated and delays intoxication.
  • Avoid hard liquor.
  • Eat a solid, wheat-based meal (things like noodles, rice, etc.) before you plan to drink.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.