Snoring Causes a Legal Problem

A Driver's Intoxication

Most people know the basic causes of snoring, but for those that don’t, here is a review. The snoring noise is caused by the vibration of the tissues in the face and throat as a result of airway constriction or obstruction. Some of the reasons that people snore could be congestion from the common cold, awkward sleeping positions, obstructive sleep apnea, bad sleeping habits (swing shift work) and quite frankly, the subject of this post, intoxication.

This little tidbit of amusing news was published in the Times-Journal from Fort Payne, Alabama on June 21, 2011. Although the article itself gives the reader a chuckle, it really is no laughing matter. That being said, this is what happened. An off-duty police officer that was driving in his own personal vehicle saw an oncoming car weave into his lane. He managed to avoid a collision, but knew that something had to be wrong with the driver, so he turned around to follow the other vehicle. The other vehicle made several turns, then turned into and backed out of several different driveways until he finally parked the vehicle. However, when other on-duty officers got to the vehicle the driver was gone, leaving the car partially blocking the street.

A Driver's Intoxication

This kind of snoring problem can lead into death.

The officers started doing a search of the surrounding area while the off-duty officer waited for a tow truck to arrive to move the vehicle. As he was waiting, he heard what he said sounded like snoring. The sound was coming from a nearby pickup truck. Upon inspection, officers found the missing driver underneath the truck, snoring loudly and fast asleep. He was found to be highly intoxicated, leading to an arrest for public intoxication since no one had actually seen him while he was driving the vehicle.

The first lesson here is not to drink and drive. This reminder being given, we will move onward to address this man’s snoring problem. When a person is highly intoxicated, the airways tend to relax even more than they normally would in a sober person. This causes an airway obstruction that reduces the flow of air, causing the snoring. So here is the second lesson. This type of snoring can lead to death if their airway obstruction becomes a total one, since the intoxicated person is less likely to wake up or change position to relieve the obstruction. These results are similar to those that can occur with sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea, if that condition is not diagnosed and treated.

More information on obstructive sleep apnea is provided in “Sleep Apnea – When Snoring Can Be Fatal.” If you have any comments, suggestions or advice for your fellow readers, be sure to leave them here. Sharing your experiences is a good way for all of us to learn about snoring.