DWI lawyers work with many defendants charged with DWI who are surprised when they fail a breathalyzer or some other test of BAC or blood alcohol concentration.
Many people believe that one drink is not enough to cause impairment, especially if they are a larger-sized person.
In truth, there is a lot more that can affect your BAC after you’ve had a drink than simply how much you weigh.
DWI defense attorneys stress the importance of understanding the many things that can collectively affect your BAC before you consider having even one drink if you need to drive afterwards.
1. Body Weight, Type, and Metabolism
While it may be partially true that a larger person may take longer to have an elevated BAC than someone who is of a smaller stature, DWI lawyers point out that factors like body fat percentage versus muscle mass and personal metabolism cause this to fluctuate greatly from person to person.
Those with more body fat can have a higher BAC than those with more muscle due to lower absorption and more alcohol remaining in the blood.
Metabolism can differ for countless reasons.
Based on alcohol metabolism studies, women tend to have a higher BAC after one drink than men do for a number of scientific reasons.
- Women tend to have more body fat than men do, even if they are fit.
- DWI lawyers point out that women have less dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the body.
Comparatively in terms of body size and fat/muscle mass, women metabolize alcohol out of the blood slower than men do.
3. Food in Stomach
Food slows how quickly alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, so drinking even a small drink on an empty stomach will cause alcohol to absorb more quickly and elevate your BAC faster.
4. Drink Type and Strength
Not all drinks are created equal; those with higher alcohol content will raise your BAC faster and higher than those containing less alcohol.
DWI defense attorneys point out that mixers can also affect your BAC, as carbonation promotes the faster absorption of alcohol while fruit juices slow it down.
5. Speed of Consumption
The faster that alcohol is consumed, the faster BAC will go up and the longer it will remain that way as the liver, which processes alcohol in the bloodstream, tries to keep up.
Sipping a drink rather than drinking it quickly can slow absorption and keep BAC lower.
6. Medications and Medical Conditions
DWI lawyers find that many people do not realize there are certain medical conditions and medications that can affect how your body reacts to alcohol in the bloodstream.
While it may not actually elevate your BAC, the effect that alcohol has on your body can be intensified when consumed with certain medications.
Additionally, alcohol consumption can cause increased glucose levels in diabetics that can lead to hypoglycemia, both of which can affect a person’s level of impairment even without a raised BAC.
7. Emotional State
Stress and high emotions tend to take blood away from the stomach while a person is in a state of stress, slowing the absorption of alcohol until the stress dissipates at which time there can be a sudden upward spike in BAC.
Alternately, someone who is depressed or fatigued might absorb alcohol faster and become even more depressed or fatigued as alcohol often acts as a depressant.
Just One Drink Could Raise Your BAC
The point of note that DWI defense attorneys hope will be taken from this is that it’s never safe to assume that “just one drink” is safe and you will not wind up with an elevated BAC as a result.
Depending on everything from your body weight and composition to your mood when you drink, that one drink can be enough to cause impairment or raise your BAC above the legal limit!
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