Los Angeles DUI and Alcohol Metabolism
In many Los Angeles driving under the influence cases, issues regarding alcohol metabolism can be critical when evaluating the merits of a case. How alcohol metabolizes can differ from person to person and can depend on a number of external and internal factors. These issues often become relevant when determining whether a driver had a rising blood alcohol which may show that he or she was actually below the legal limit at the time of driving.
The concentration of alcohol in a person’s body depends on how much water is in the body. This water level can vary between individuals. As a rule, a person with a higher percentage of water in his or her body will effectively dilute the alcohol that is absorbed into the body.
Unlike food and drugs, alcohol is absorbed rapidly after consumption. Alcohol that is consumed will absorb quickly into the bloodstream from a person’s stomach or small intestine. The absorption rate will increase when the subject has consumed a lot of water and will decrease in cases where the subject has eaten food. The type of alcohol consumed can also affect how it is metabolized. A person’s BAC will rise more slowly when drinking beer in comparison to other liquors in addition to having a lower peak alcohol level and a more rapid elimination rate.
How blood circulates throughout the body can have an effect on a person’s blood alcohol content. Organs that have a large blood supply, such as the kidneys, brain and liver will quickly absorb alcohol from the bloodstream. However, muscle tissue, which makes up 40% of the body, absorbs alcohol much more slowly. As a result, during the absorption period there are significantly higher concentrations of alcohol in the bloodstream and brain as the body has not reached equilibrium. This can result in a person appearing very intoxicated in a short period of time despite only consuming a limited amount of alcohol. Usually in these cases if the individual does not consume any additional alcohol, he or she will quickly sober up within 15 to 30 minutes once the alcohol has reached equilibrium. This can make a person appear more intoxicated than they are when stopped by a law enforcement officer and can also lead to poor performance on field sobriety tests and higher than usual BAC results.
Other external factors, such as stress and cold weather, can cause less blood to be distributed to the muscles and more to the brain and bloodstream. This would have the duel effect of making an individual appear more intoxicated as well as having a blood alcohol level not commensurate with the amount of alcohol he or she has consumed. Because a DUI stop and investigation can often cause a great deal of stress, especially for someone who has consumed alcohol, the stress of the stop itself can lead to elevated BAC levels.
When dealing with alcohol absorption and concentration, it is important not to forget about alcohol elimination, which is the rate that alcohol is removed from the body and bloodstream. Alcohol is removed when it is oxidized by the liver. The elimination rate will vary considerably between individuals. The elimination rate is generally considered to be approximately .015 percent per hour. This means that a person who has a BAC of .10 would expect to have a reading of .085 an hour later if that person has not consumed any additional alcohol. The elimination rate can vary between .10 percent and .20 percent per hour. Elimination rates as high as .06 percent have been observed in individuals.
It is important to remember that alcohol rates of absorption and elimination will vary considerably between individuals depending on many different factors. Experienced drinkers may often have to consume more alcohol to reach the same BAC as an inexperienced drinker due to their altered physiology. These differences can often prove critical in defending a DUI case.
If you have been arrested for DUI, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Attorney Michael Kraut is highly skilled at mounting successful defenses on behalf of those accused of DUI crimes.
For more information about DUI and alcohol metabolism, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.