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How Do I Determine My Blood Alcohol Level? Am I Safe to Drive?

Posted on in DUI

California DUI defense lawyerOne of the phrases that DUI defense attorneys hear the most is: “I felt fine to drive. I shouldn’t have been over the limit. How can it be that the test shows I am over the limit?”

There answer is that there are many possibilities. There is always the possibility that the testing apparatus or procedure was flawed. Another is that your blood alcohol rose after you stopped driving, and prior to testing.

There is another possibility that gets much less airplay: your metabolism is just not “normal” on the day in question.

How the Body Metabolizes Alcohol

Studies show that there is a vast difference in the way we metabolize alcohol, both in different people and on different days for the same individuals. Not a lot of people discuss this phenomenon, but scientists have sat a group of people down and measured their blood alcohol from the point of no drinks to the point of quite a few drinks. They have done this with males and females, empty stomach and a full stomach, and different forms of alcohol. Ultimately, the results showed that some people reach a peak blood alcohol in as little as fifteen minutes; others take well over two hours.

Simultaneous blood and breath tests on the same individual can differ - at times remarkably - and this seems to be tied to whether one is still in the “absorptive” phase or has reached peak BAC and is now on the downward side of the curve. Notably, self-reports of these individual regarding whether they feel safe to drive do not tend to correlate directly with increased levels of blood alcohol.

BAC Charts Are Deceptive and Often Inaccurate

Many of us receive the DMV’s BAC chart when we receive mail from the bureaucrats at DMV. These charts would lead one to believe that you could just input your weight, sex, the number of drinks, and the amount of time spent drinking and voila! You are at a specified BAC. Anyone who took a critical look at these charts and compared it to the scientific studies would know that those charts are nearly worthless.

After being involved in the DUI field for over 30 years, and having handled thousands of cases, I’ve found that the drinking pattern of many people does not match the reported BAC per the usual chart-style analysis. Is it a problem with the testing procedures? The testing device? A metabolism that doesn't match the norm?

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in a position to be trying to get an answer to these questions. Go out, have fun, knock a few back - but get a designated driver, use Uber/Lyft/etc., taxi it, hoof it, or get a hotel. All are preferable to having to ask yourself or a professional “How did my BAC come back over the limit? I only had…”

Contact Our Santa Cruz DUI Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you love is facing a DUI charge, contact John W. Thornton, Attorney at Law, for assistance. Committed to protecting your rights and best interest, our Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyer will carefully examine your case and fight for the most favorable outcome. We offer personalized consultations to suit your needs. Schedule yours by calling 831-426-5800 today.

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