Understanding Alcohol Levels in DUI Cases

If you received a drunk driving citation, you likely submitted to a breath or blood test after the officer made the request. Although it is difficult to determine your alcohol level at the time of the arrest, the government will try to do so based on your test results. Therefore, in order to properly defend the charges against you, it is important to understand blood alcohol content in order to determine if what your alcohol level was at the time of driving, and not just at the time of the blood or breath test.

Blood Alcohol Content

The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream is called Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). BAC refers to the percent of alcohol in a person’s blood stream. To determine the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream, it is important to understand the levels of alcohol in beverages. 

In general, the contents of the typical bottle or can of beer, glass of wine, or liquor drink (mixed drink or straight liquor) each contain virtually identical amounts of pure alcohol. This does not take into account beverages that have a higher alcoholic content. Many beers and wines may have a higher alcohol content than hard liquor.

BAC refers to the percent of alcohol in a person’s blood stream. For example, a BAC of .10 percent means that an individual’s blood supply contains one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood. 

In other words, a BAC of .10 means that .1% of your bloodstream is composed of alcohol. In most states, a person is legally intoxicated when he or she has a BAC of .08 percent or above.

A person’s blood alcohol level can rise differently for every person and can rise differently for the same person at any given time. 

There are a number of factors that can make your BAC rise more quickly. The number of drinks you have, how fast you have those drinks, your gender, your weight, the length of time, and food consumption will contribute to your alcohol level.

Absorption of Alcohol

When a person consumes alcohol, it is quickly absorbed into the blood and can be measured within minutes. The amount of alcohol in the blood reaches its highest level about an hour after drinking. About 90% of alcohol is broken down in the liver. The rest is passed out of the body in urine, sweat, and breath.

Most people believe they get drunk because they have not eaten. However, food only slows the absorption of alcohol into the blood-stream. On an empty stomach, alcohol reaches the brain in a few minutes and begins to affect behavior and coordination. After a full meal, alcohol can take longer to reach the brain.

Food does not absorb the alcohol. It merely slows the speed at which alcohol is absorbed. Fatty foods are especially effective in slowing down the alcohol absorption process. As fatty foods are more difficult to digest, they remain in the stomach longer than other types of food. The effect of the alcohol still occurs but at a slower rate. Food in the stomach may increase the time it takes for the blood alcohol to reach its highest level.

Elimination of Alcohol

It is assumed that coffee, fresh air, exercise, sleep, and cold showers help facilitate the elimination of alcohol.

Time, however, is the only thing that will eliminate alcohol. For most individuals, it takes at least 75-90 minutes for the body to eliminate one standard-size alcoholic beverage.

If you consume alcohol and think you can just wait a few hours, think again. Alcohol elimination is very slow and depending on your weight, height, metabolism, food consumption can change the amount of time it takes before the alcohol is completely eliminated. 

Fresno drunk driving charges usually require the prosecutor to have your blood alcohol levels. Get help with DUI charges with a dedicated DUI lawyer.

DUI Attorney That Understands Alcohol

At the Law Offices of Tina M. Barberi, PC, we will help you determine your alcohol levels at the time of driving, not just the results at the time you took a breath or blood test.

Because a DUI case can cause numerous consequences that can affect your entire life, we will make sure you have the correct advice when determining alcohol levels. For more information, contact an experienced Fresno DUI lawyer today to discuss your case.

We will make sure you obtain the very best defense and work to see if your BAC was rising at the time of driving. Contact us today to receive a free and confidential DUI consultation.