Increased Alcoholism among Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are all nearing the age of retirement if they haven’t already and studies have shown this generation may have an increased chance of alcoholism, especially among women.

Increased age, increase alcohol use

Photo by: Katina Rogers

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stated in a 2008 study ”about 40 percent of adults ages 65 and older drink alcohol.” Multiple studies conducted since that study in both in the U.S. and the UK have shown a dramatic increase of drinking among older adults than in previous years. Additionally, the amount of alcohol consumed by older adults is also increasing; in many case adults over 65 are drinking more than double the recommended weekly limit.

Older women at higher risk

While there have always been a higher amount of men who drink heavily compared to women, the rate of binge drinking among older women is increasing more rapidly than that of older males. Some theorize women over 65 may be increasing their heavy drinking due to it being more socially acceptable, to handle pain that comes with age, or even to fill the time of a life that may be slowing down with other activities.

Health risks

Photo by: Jeffrey Fairchild

Older women who drink heavily are at an increased risk of severe health problems related to alcohol abuse. According to the NIH, Those who are heavy drinkers could increase health problems such as “diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver problems, osteoporosis, memory problems, and mood disorders.” They also note that “women typically start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men”. Additionally, many medications that those 65 and older take regularly can have dangerous reactions when mixed with alcohol.

Legal ramifications

Beyond the wide range of health risks, both men and women over the age of 65 should be aware of the legal risks that can be associated with binge drinking.

• As reaction time and memory recall decreases with age, alcohol can magnify this effect. The combination of age and alcohol could increase the chance of individuals putting others in harm whether through trying to operate a vehicle or other heavy machinery or by increasing the chance of accidental home fires that could result in injury or death. The NIH stated “Aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol. Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. This puts older adults at higher risks for falls, car crashes, and other unintentional injuries that may result from drinking.

• Alcohol has been shown to be a factor in many aggravated criminal cases such as homicides, assaults, and sexual crimes. Alcohol does not discriminate in regards to age. Those who have a tendency to show increased agitation when they are drunk at 40 may also face the same reaction when they are over 65. Age is never an excuse for violent behavior.

• In a little over a year, Utah will be decreasing the BAC limit for drivers. Most drivers, especially women who typically weigh less than men, will not be able to drive legally after even one drink. All drivers should consider planning ahead for a designated driver whenever alcohol is to be consumed.

Set limits

The NIH recommends those who are over 65, healthy, and not on medication (or planning on driving) should limit their amounts of alcohol to no more than “3 drinks on a given day” and “7 drinks in a week”. Although alcohol is legal for all adults over the age of 21, it may be wise to recognize problems of binge drinking and take precautions to curb excess drinking before health or legal consequences ensue. For any adult regardless of age that is facing criminal charges stemming from an alcohol related offense, it is best to consult immediately with a criminal defense attorney.

Utah Highway Laws

Utah has highway laws in place to help prevent accidents and keep the flow of traffic moving freely. Violation of these highway laws not only proves a driver to be non-courteous, but can also result in fines or criminal charges.

Move-over laws

Photo by: versageek

Photo by: versageek

More than 200 law enforcement officers have been struck and killed by passing motorists during traffic stops since 2000. On Sunday evening, a Utah highway patrol officer had a close call as she was nearly hit by a passing car while on a routine traffic stop along I-15. Officer Bambi Baie was pulled over behind a stopped vehicle when she realized an oncoming car was drifting toward her. Luckily for the officer, the approaching distracted driver saw the officer in time and was able to avoid a collision with the patrol car. Unfortunately, the 55 year old Cedar City woman who had been looking at her cell phone, over-corrected when she saw the UHP vehicle and rolled her car several times. She was taken to the hospital in serious condition and will likely face charges for violation of highway laws including operating a hand held device while driving and failure to move over for motorist on the side of the road.

Speeding in Work Zones

UDOT workers put themselves in danger every time they put on that orange safety vest, as their workplace is surrounded on a daily basis by fast moving vehicles. To protect these workers and drivers, Utah has highway laws that not only prohibit speeding, but increase fines for those caught driving too fast in work zones. Speeding in a work zone will result in tickets that are double their normal rate.

Left lane drivers

“Stay right except to pass” is a sign seen often along Utah highways and is not merely a suggestion. Utah Code 41-6a-701 states: “On all roadways of sufficient width, a person operating a vehicle shall operate the vehicle on the right half of the roadway.” The far left lane is reserved for those moving faster than the flow of traffic, including law and emergency vehicles. The exceptions to this law are for those passing other slower moving vehicles, bicycles, mopeds, or if there is an obstruction in the road. Once the passing car has overtaken the other vehicles, they are to move over to the right lane immediately. By keeping to the right, traffic can move freely which will greatly reduce the amount of accidents on the highways.

Express lanes

Photo by: Garrett

Photo by: Garrett

Express lanes are available for motorist to bypass heavy traffic that can result from congestion surrounding on ramps and off ramps. In order to use the express lanes lawfully, drivers must be riding with at least one other human occupant in the car), driving a motorcycle, or have a paid express pass. Additionally, drivers are never to cross a double white line. According to UDOT, “violators of the Express Lanes can be issued a citation with a fine of up to $175.”

Merging

Traffic entering the highway from on ramps must always yield to through traffic. The same rule applies when merging is required due to a lane ending. The merging car is responsible for carrying out this maneuver safely, just as if they were changing lanes. While it is not legally required to let merging traffic enter, it is the decent thing to do as long as it can be done safely.

Be safe and courteous

Photo by: Ken Lund

Photo by: Ken Lund

By following these and other Utah highway laws, motorist can travel throughout the state of Utah safely. While most violations of highway laws end in citations and fines, because of the high rate of speed they can quickly turn into negligent driving charges or even vehicular manslaughter. Obeying highway laws may also keep drivers from becoming victims of road rage. For more information on charges resulting in failure to follow Utah highway laws, contact a criminal defense attorney.