Our law firm has handled hundreds of DUI / DWI cases in Cass County and Jackson County, Missouri. The basis of a DUI / DWI arrest involves your blood alcohol content (BAC) during a traffic stop. If you plead guilty to a DUI / DWI, you risk going to jail or prison, losing your license, and paying huge fines.
What is BAC Content?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol that is present in the blood, based on the volume of alcohol consumed over a given period of time. A BAC of .10 percent means that an individual’s blood contains one part of alcohol for every 1,000 parts of blood. In Missouri, a person is legally intoxicated if that person has a BAC of .08 percent or above.
Factors that Affect BAC
The most obvious factor that affects your BAC is the amount alcohol you drink during a set amount of time. Other important factors can also affect your BAC. For example, as you age the intoxicating effects of alcohol increase. Gender can also have an affect as women generally have lower water content in their bodies than men. Since alcohol is water soluble, a woman can have a higher BAC than a man even if all other factors are the same.
Body type will affect BAC. A person who weighs more will usually have more water in their body and therefore will usually have a lower BAC with equal amounts of alcohol consumed than a smaller person. Also, the faster you drink alcohol, the faster your BAC will rise. Relative fat content versus muscle content will affect BAC and a person will have a higher BAC with a higher body fat percentage. Most alcohol in the body is broken down by metabolism and different people have different rates in which their bodies metabolize alcohol.
Medications such as cold or allergy pills can react negatively with alcohol and affect BAC; you should check product labels on medications to identify any potential issues with alcohol consumption. If you are stressed, the rate of alcohol absorption in your body can be slowed creating an increased BAC when you calm down.
If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, your BAC will be higher than a person who has eaten before drinking. Food slows the absorption into your bloodstream by keeping the alcohol you consume in your stomach for a longer period of time. Carbonated drinks such as sparkling wine, champagne, or mixed drinks with sodas may increase the rate at which alcohol passes through your stomach and result in a higher BAC. Some people have negative reactions to alcohol through a genetic condition in which the body has difficulty breaking down alcohol, this may also affect BAC.
BAC After Drinking
Alcohol peaks in the blood stream approximately 30 to 45 minutes after consuming a drink. After alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream it leaves the body in two ways. A total of about ten percent leaves through the breath, perspiration, and urine. The remainder is broken down through metabolism. No matter how much or how fast you drink, the body can only dispose of alcohol at a rate of approximately one standard drink per hour. Someone with a BAC of .16, or twice the legal driving limit will require over 10 hours to be completely sober and after 5 hours may still not be under the legal driving limit. A person who reaches a BAC of .20 after a night of heavy drinking may still be over the legal driving limit the following morning, which could be a major problem for anyone who has to go to work the next day.
The only way you can truly protect yourself from being arrested for a DUI / DWI is to not drive after you have been drinking. Be prepared to call a driver or a taxi when you go out and if you do get stopped, call an experienced DUI / DWI attorney to protect your rights.