Neurological disorders due to alcohol consumption and their impact in driving

Impact on driving due to Neurological Alterations due to alcohol consumption

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Long-term consumption of alcohol causes digestive, cardiac, and liver disorders, loss of memory, paranoia, visual and reflex disturbances, etc., that are in many cases permanently disabling for driving.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome

It causes tremor, hyperreflexia and, in some patients, generalized seizures.

Alcoholic hallucinosis

It follows excessive, prolonged consumption of alcohol, with illusions and auditory hallucinations without confusion, that cause terror in the patient.

It is usually transient and responds to therapy with phenothiazines within a period of 1 3 weeks.

Delirium tremens

Due to severe withdrawal, it starts with episodes of anxiety and growing confusion, insomnia with nightmares and severe depression.

Disorientation and interruption of cognitive functions are characteristic, with a significant feeling of restlessness.

Hallucinations and delirious states can occur, with tremor, dysarthria, and ataxia.

Alcoholic cirrhosis

It causes dulling, lethargy, and stupor.

Korsakoff syndrome

It is often characterized by a severe disorder of recent recall, compensated with fabulation.

It is generally associated with excessive alcohol consumption, chronic malnutrition, or diet deficit of the vitamin group B, particularly thiamine.

Wernicke encephalopathy

The prognosis is worse if this type of encephalopathy characterized by eye paralysis, thinking disorder, ataxia and polyneuropathy also occurs.


It can worsen in a patient for an excessive alcohol consumption. In turn, alcoholism is per se a possible cause of seizures.

Close to a crisis and transiently, there is an increased sensitivity to intermittent light stimulus.

Convulsive crises and photosensitivity usually occur in withdrawal periods, at least some hours after the last alcohol ingestion.

The most recommended treatment of epilepsy of alcoholic origin is the removal of alcohol, since the follow-up of the anticonvulsant treatment in these patients is very difficult to achieve.

Polyneuritis and optic neuritis

They are largely associated with vitamin deficit states, particularly of group B.

Advice on neurological disorders due to alcohol consumption

  • Alcohol consumption disables for driving, so driving is not permitted after drinking alcohol.
  • In case of doubt, a personal alcohol-meter used be used to assure the absence of alcohol in the body before driving.
  • People with alcohol dependence must not drive.
  • People with a history of alcohol dependence where rehabilitation is not dully achieved or with no report accrediting the appropriate rehabilitation cannot drive either.
  • If there is a history of alcohol dependence, with a favorable report from the physician, driving is permitted with effective periods following the physician criterion based on the evolution of the patient.
  • Driving is not permitted in case of alcohol-induced disorders such as withdrawal, delirium, dementia, psychotic disorders or others that involve a risk for road safety.
  • The patient who stops drinking alcohol with medical therapy and support therapy will be evaluated for the possible non-recoverable neurological sequels, that can continue limiting driving.
  • If the medical report is favorable, the patient shows no neurological handicaps and does not drink alcohol anymore, he can obtain again the driving license.