March 18, 2014

By Vannoy Law Firm

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Hopfeully the following will answer some of these common questions.

How many drinks will get me over the limit? 

One serving of alcohol is fully absorbed into the blood stream within 30 minutes to 2 hours after intake. This is because the body can metabolize about 0.25 ounces of alcohol per hour. However, the effects of alcohol vary by individual and by how much alcohol they drink in one session. In fact, the effects and levels of alcohol in the body depend upon a number of factors:

•          a person’s size and weight

•          individual metabolism rate

•          related food intake

•          the beverage consumed

Generally speaking, alcohol is absorbed into the blood relatively quickly and metabolized more slowly. In an average 150 pound person, for example, each drink adds 0.02% to BAC and hour that passes removes 0.01% from it. This is why alcohol concentrations build steadily throughout a drinking session.

From: http://www.intox.com/t-AboutAlcohol.aspx, via http://prevention.gwu.edu/alcohol-absorption

How long does it take for alcohol to be absorbed?

Alcohol burns off at a precise rate of .016 BAC per hour, about equal to 1 standard drink each hour (depending on your weight). This rate is true regardless of the size of your body. A 5'2" female burns off alcohol at the same rate as a 6'1" obese male.

The differences, however, are in the rate with which your BAC rises. One drink in a small female of low weight constitutes a much larger percent of her BAC. It may take a male 5 drinks or more in an hour to reach a BAC of .08, while it may take a small female only 2 or three drinks.

Also, alcohol absorption varies depending on individual fat levels.  For instance, an individual with a lot of fat will be slower to absorb alcohol. However, when two people with equal weight, but different fat levels, drink the same amount of alcohol, the one with less fat will absorb the alcohol faster than the one with more fat while the absorption of alcohol metabolizes at the same rate.

Regardless of size or gender, the .016 metabolic rate is a constant. There is no way to speed up the process, whether you take an enzyme test, drink coffee, take cold showers or vomit. About 10% of alcohol leaves the body in breath, sweat and urine, but most is broken down by the liver which takes an hour per standard drink. Essentially it takes time to get rid of the alcohol from your body. The chart below illustrates the length of time it will take for your body to get rid of the alcohol in your system.

From: http://www.alcohol-stuff.co.uk/guides/how-long-does-alcohol-stay-in-your-system.html, via http://prevention.gwu.edu/alcohol-absorption

What factors lead to impairment due to alcohol ingestion?

Women produce less of the alcohol metabolizing enzymes in the body which means it takes a woman longer to break down the alcohol than it would a man of the same size.  Not only heavier but more muscular individuals have more blood to dilute the alcohol, resulting in lower blood alcohol content levels. 

Some other factors include what is in your stomach.  If you drink on an empty stomach, there is nothing there to slow the rate of absorption and can lead to a higher BAC level.  Lack of sleep can cause a higher BAC since your liver does not work as well when you are tired.  If you are sick you might be dehydrated which adds to the effects of alcohol.  Mixing alcohol with other drugs can have dangerous impacts of the effects alcohol has on the body and I don’t just mean illegal drugs.  Doctor prescribed or over the counter medications must be used carefully when combined with alcohol.  Every person is different and will react to alcohol differently. 

From: http://prevention.gwu.edu/alcohol-absorption

How long since one stops drinking does alcohol continue to be absorbed?

When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, about 20 percent of the alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and about 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine. How fast the alcohol is absorbed depends upon several things:

  • The concentration of alcohol in the beverage
  • The type of drink – Carbonated beverages tend to speed up the absorption of alcohol.
  • Whether the stomach is full or empty

The observed effects depend directly on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is related to the amount of alcohol consumed. The BAC can rise significantly within 20 minutes after having a drink.

From: http://science.howstuffworks.com/alcohol3.htm via http://prevention.gwu.edu/alcohol-absorption

If you have questions regarding a DUI or criminal case in Berkeley, Charleston, or Dorchester County, please contact my office today at (843) 761-0610 or through the contact page on this website.

bradyaBrady Vannoy carries a Martindale-Hubbell(R) AV PreeminentTM Rating.  According to the rating system, "AV Preeminent(R) is a significant rating accomplishment-a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence."  http://www.martindale.com/Products_and_Services/Peer_Review_Ratings.aspx

Brady is a member of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  Brady defends DUI and Criminal cases in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties along with other areas of the South Carolina low country.  He can be reached at (843) 761-0610 or through the contact page on this website.


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