Legal Consequences of Functional Alcoholism

A functional alcoholic is a habitual, daily drinker with a physical dependency on alcohol who nonetheless continues to manage responsibilities. A functional alcoholic will hold down a job, maintain a residence, pay bills and may even have a family. However, the term “functional” can be misleading, as these people only appear to function successfully. Chronic drinking takes its toll in subtle, possibly unseen ways. Furthermore, one drinking-related mishap, such as a DUI, can spell disaster or start a chain of events that can destroy the drinker’s life and the lives of others.

Dangers of Drinking and Driving

Many functional alcoholics drink every day and throughout the day. This means that she probably drives a car in an impaired condition on a regular basis. Regular drinkers indeed develop a tolerance for the effects of alcohol, but this can lead a functional alcoholic to think she can handle herself and drive under the influence. Functional alcoholics get used to doing everything in a semi-inebriated state, and may develop a false sense of confidence in their abilities to drive a car safely after drinking.

However, alcohol impairs judgment, motor skills and reaction times, even in those with a tolerance. Furthermore, regular heavy drinkers often doze momentarily; if this happens while driving the results can be disastrous. Also, the consequences of being caught by the police are severe, and possible include losing driving privileges, jail time, fines, court costs, attorney fees and court-ordered rehab.
On the other hand, the consequences of a DUI are minor compared to those of taking a life due to drunk driving. A functional alcoholic who kills someone with his car faces personal and professional ruin, charges of vehicular manslaughter, a long stint in prison, civil lawsuits and a lifetime of guilt.

Other Consequences of Functional Alcoholism

There are many possible consequences of functional alcoholism beyond those connected with driving under the influence. Alcoholism may be a factor in cases of domestic violence and spouse or child abuse. These cases can lead to intervention from the police, courts and social services, and may result in fines, court costs, attorney fees and jail time. This can also devastate family relationships with divorce or loss of child custody. Alcoholism can also cause work-related problems and lead to job loss. The resulting loss of income can cause legal problems due to unpaid bills, collection actions, default, bankruptcy and foreclosure.

Find Help for a Drinking Problem

If your drinking is causing problems, if you have tried unsuccessfully to quit or if you would like to discuss treatment options, call us. Our helpline is toll free, and we are available 24 hours a day.