The attached statements were written by the same person before, during and after two hours of drinking alcohol.

In this experiment the person started to drink on an empty stomach, and consumed four drinks containing one and one fourth ounces of alcohol each. Fifteen minutes after each drink, the person wrote one of the statements and was told to write each sentence in exactly the same way.

There is very little difference between sentences one and two, but major changes begin to emerge with the third sentence. Notice how much larger the capital I is. This is significant because the personal pronoun I is a symbol of the writer’s self image. The large I shows a magnified self-concept which may be something like false courage.

The fourth sentence is much less legible, and the word “and” has been replaced by a symbol, despite the writer’s conviction that he had written this sentence exactly as before.

The fifth sentence (after four drinks on an empty stomach) is hardly readable and is significantly different from the first sentence. This is very important because it shows that alcohol certainly affects mental processes, and impairs the ability to drive and to write. Among these effects are slowed reaction time, impaired judgment and reasoning, and weakening of inhibitions.

Obviously, people have different tolerances for alcohol and the results of this experiment would have been different if the writer had eaten, but there is no doubt that drinking alcohol negatively affects a person’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle, even though that person might not be aware of it.

Writing is a physical process. The brain sends an order through the nervous system to the arm, hand, and fingers, where together they manipulate the writing tool. When the brain is impaired with alcohol, so is the ability to write and drive.

Dr. Murray is a certified writing analyst, graduate of the International Graphoanalysis Institute and a member of the American Association of Handwriting Analysts. He is also an experienced educator, school social worker and family therapist in Forest Park.