Police officers use either a breath or blood test to measure a DUI suspect’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine the amount of alcohol in the person’s bloodstream. BAC is generally based on how much alcohol an individual consumes over a specific period.
If a person has a BAC of at least .08 percent—.04 percent for commercial drivers or .02 percent of drivers under 21 years old—he/she could be arrested for drunk driving. But besides alcohol, what other factors influence BAC?
Here is a list of several factors that affect BAC levels:
- Gender – Since women have lower water content—and fewer enzymes that metabolize alcohol—compared to men, their BAC levels are generally higher after consuming alcohol at the same rate as their male counterparts.
- Age – The intoxicating effects of alcohol become more pronounced when you grow older.
- Weight – More weight often means more water in the body, which dilutes the effects of alcohol.
- Consumption rate – The faster you drink, the faster your BAC will increase.
- Strength of alcoholic beverage – The higher the alcohol percentage, the more alcohol will enter your bloodstream after consumption.
- Food – Since food slows how much alcohol is absorbed in your bloodstream by keeping it in your stomach, drinking on an empty stomach will result in a higher BAC compared to someone who has eaten prior to drinking.
- Mixed beverages – The absorption process slows down when water or fruit juice is mixed with alcohol, while carbonated drinks will create a more rapid rise in BAC.
- Medications – From cough medicines to prescription drugs, medication combined with alcohol can have an adverse effect on the body by making the intoxicating effects of alcohol more pronounced.
- Fatigue and stress – A person’s emotional state can affect how the body processes alcohol. For example, stress can slow the absorption rate of alcohol by diverting it the stomach and small intestines, rather than the bloodstream. When a stressed individual eventually relaxes, he/she will experience a surge in BAC levels.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in West Virginia, contact The Wagner Law Firm today at (304) 461-6000 and request a free case evaluation.