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Warning: Drunk Walking is Dangerous, Too

Beware of getting behind the wheel—or on your feet—this New Year's Eve, experts warn.

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By Bryan Le

12/28/12

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The hazards of being drunk aren't limited to those who get behind the wheel. Even walking while intoxicated can be lethal, experts warn. "Every movement ranging from driving a car to simply walking to the bathroom is compromised," says Thomas Esposito, a trauma surgeon at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill. "Alcohol impairs your judgment, reflexes and coordination. Alcohol is nothing more than a socially acceptable, over-the-counter stimulant/depressant and, especially during the holidays, alcohol is frequently abused." In his line of work, Esposito has seen more than his fair share of injuries from people trying to walk home drunk and getting hit by cars: "From July 2009 to June 2010, 105 people were treated at Loyola after being struck by cars. Fifty-five had their blood alcohol content checked," he says. "Of those, 16 individuals, or 29 percent, were found to have had some level of alcohol in their system." And New Year's Day is the most dangerous day of the year for pedestrians—in 2008, 38% of pedestrians killed on New Year's Day had a BAC greater than 0.08. And that percentage rose to 53% between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. "It's not just walking outside. We often see people who have been drinking that have fallen down the stairs or tripped at home and injured themselves," Esposito warns. "Others have unwisely chosen to 'get into it' with guns, knives, bottles and fists."

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