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Alcohol Energy Drinks Raise Public Health Concerns

In recent years so called "energy" drinks have become popular, especially among overnight workers and college students.

High in caffeine, the drinks became favorites for the energy boost they provided. But newer drinks that mix caffeine with alcohol have drawn concern from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration following complaints the combination led to traffic accidents, violence and even alcohol poisoning. In November, the FDA determined the caffeine was indeed an unsafe food additive when added to the alcohol and issued warning letters to the four companies that manufactured the drinks.

Labeling them a public health concern, the FDA said the drinks were responsible for several incidents in which users were "wide awake drunk." The dangerous combination also led to several hospitalizations.

In issuing the warning, the FDA said it could take the products off the market if the manufacturers continue to distribute them to stores.

Four states, Michigan, Utah, Oklahomand Washington, have already banned the drinks, which contain as much as 12 percent alcohol by volume. Several other states are also considering similar measures.

The FDA initiated action last year when it alerted the manufacturers that the mixing of alcohol and caffeine had not been reviewed or approved and that it was initiating a study to assess the potential danger. Following months of study, the FDA determined that the caffeine/alcohol mixture did in fact hide the effects of the alcohol on anyone who consumed the drink, so someone who may have been legally drunk appeared to be sober.

Consumers of the alcohol/caffeine beverages, marketed under names such as Four Loko, may have felt sober and capable of driving safely when they were legally intoxicated. If you were charged with DWI or underage consumption after consuming Four Loko or another alcoholic drink, contact an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer.

States Consider Banning Alcoholic Energy Drinks

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