If you’ve ever had to go about your day while nursing a hangover from drinking too much the night before, you know just how unpleasant the experience can be. However, it might surprise you to learn that even if you found a safe ride home the night before and most of the alcohol has left your system the next day, you might still have impairments from your hangover.

According to a 2018 study that analyzed people after a heavy drinking night, they still showed impairments in coordination, attention, reaction time, and memory during their hangover the next day. While alcohol usually leaves the body within 12 hours of your last drink, hangover symptoms like headaches, nausea and fatigue usually peak when your blood alcohol content reaches zero and lasts up to 24 hours.

In other words, while you may have thought you made the responsible decision sleeping off your intoxication, you may still be experiencing impairments that hinder your driving abilities the next day.

When is it safe to drive?

After a night of heavy drinking, having no alcohol in your system the next day doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to drive. If you are experiencing any of these common hangover symptoms, it might be useful to wait until you feel better to get behind the wheel:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of focus
  • Limited coordination

If you’re feeling hungover, the best thing you can do is stay home and rest until your symptoms subside. Otherwise, you may be putting yourself and others on the road at risk.