Caffeinated Alcohol Drinks May Lead to DUI

The hottest new thing from beer companies is alcoholic energy drinks. Products like Miller Brewing Company’s Sparks and Bud Extra from Anheuser-Busch offer a mix of caffeine and alcohol. Law enforcement and DUI prosecutors worry though that drivers who are legally drunk may not feel the extent of their impairment because of the caffeine.

The beer companies are responding to a trend among younger drinkers to mix energy drinks, such as Red Bull, with alcohol. The new beer and caffeine products typically have substantially higher alcohol content than regular beer. Besides caffeine, the energy drinks can contain herbal stimulants, further masking the effects of alcohol. A study published in ‘Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research’ showed that the drinkers reported feeling fewer symptoms of intoxication while drinking the caffeine laden drinks even though coordination tests showed they were indeed impaired.

While adults have long mixed caffeinated drinks like Coke with alcohol, there is concern about the overt marketing of new energy drinks to younger drinkers. Another Anheuser-Busch product called Spykes was pulled from shelves after a storm of criticism. The 12 percent alcohol drinks offered both fruit and chocolate flavors favored by young people. Critics of the energy drink trend call beer brewers “totally irresponsible.”

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