Research carried out by Abertay University, Dundee, and London South Bank University, found that people with mild to moderate alcohol intoxication are no less accurate as witnesses.
When compared to sober people recalling details of what they had seen, people who had consumed alcohol were less confident and recalled fewer details but were no less reliable.
The research published in the journal Pharmacology, was focused on people who had mild to moderate alcohol intoxication and were then asked to recall specific events soon afterwards. The study compared those who had consumed no alcohol with those who had drank vodka and orange juice and were then asked to recall details of videos which showed a mock theft.
Dr Julie Gawrylowicz of Abertay University, co-leader on the study, said:
“Contrary to perceptions commonly held by the general public and many professionals working within the criminal justice system, our findings suggest that mild to moderate alcohol intoxication does not make individuals more susceptible to incorporating misleading information obtained from a co-witness.
“Our work also shows that alcohol does impact recall completeness but not accuracy, so mild to moderately intoxicated witnesses may be regarded as a reliable source of information, even if questioned in an intoxicated state.
“It is important to note though, that this study tested memory at low to moderate intoxication levels, with a minimal delay before recall, and no other influencing factors.”
“Those involved in the criminal justice chain, including police, judges and jurors should therefore be aware that although mildly to moderately intoxicated witnesses might report fewer details and might be less confident in their accounts, their version of events might not be necessarily less accurate.