The holiday season is here and the police are on the lookout for boozy-breathed motorists. If you are among those who imbibe and drive, be aware that mixing diet drinks with alcohol can raise your breathalyzer score if you are pulled over and wind up ensnared in a checkpoint. This DWI-enhancing combo was reported in the December edition of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence by researchers in the Department of Psychological Science, Northern Kentucky University.
The study authors note that alcohol is often mixed with various nonalcoholic beverages, and that it is known that consumption of food with alcohol will decrease peak breath alcohol concentrations. However, recent evidence has suggested that mixing alcohol with diet beverages can result in higher breath alcohol levels when compared to mixing the same amount of alcohol with sweetened beverages. Therefore, the purpose of their study was to examine this situation using two different moderate alcohol doses.
The study group comprised 20 individuals (10 males and 10 females) who attended five sessions where they received 1 of 5 doses: 0.91 ml/kg vodka + 3.64 ml/kg of diet soda; 0.91 ml/kg vodka + 3.64 of regular soda; 1.82 ml/kg vodka + 7.28 ml/kg diet soda; 1.82 ml/kg vodka + 7.28 ml/kg regular soda; and a placebo beverage). Breath alcohol concentrations were measured repeatedly up to 180 minutes after dose administration.
The researchers found that the subjects had significantly higher breath alcohol concentrations when the mixer was diet, compared to regular, for both alcohol dose conditions. No gender differences were found. The authors concluded that mixing alcohol with diet beverages can result in higher breath alcohol concentrations when compared to the same amount of alcohol consumed with a similar sweetened beverage. People who consume diet mixers with alcohol may reduce caloric intake but increase the harms associated with higher breath alcohol concentrations.