The Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) devised gender-based drinking recommendations to ensure blood or equivalized breath alcohol concentrations (BrAC) remain <0.050%. However, these may be inappropriate for individuals consuming alcohol without carbohydrate (CHO), which results in higher BrACs. This study investigated the effects of ingesting alcohol with and without CHO on BrACs and simulated driving performance. Thirty-two participants (16 males; age: 23 ± 6 years) completed two randomized single-blinded trials. Participants performed a baseline drive (Drive 1), then an experimental drive (Drive 2), following alcohol consumption (males: 20 g; females: 10 g). Alcoholic beverages contained either 25 g sucrose or aspartame (AS). Driving performance was assessed using lateral control (standard deviation of lane position [SDLP] and number of lane departures) and risk-taking (number of overtaking maneuvers and maximum overtaking speed). BrAC and subjective ratings (e.g., intoxication) were also assessed. BrAC was significantly lower as Drive 2 commenced with CHO compared to AS (0.022 ± 0.008% vs. 0.030 ± 0.011%). Two males provided BrACs >0.050% with AS. Neither beverage influenced changes to simulated driving performance. Ingesting alcohol in quantities advised by the NDARC results in no detectable simulated driving impairment. However, the likelihood of exceeding the legal drink-driving BrAC is increased when alcohol is consumed with artificially-sweetened mixers.
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