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Factors That Can Affect Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Watkins Law Firm LLC April 5, 2023

 Girl taking alcohol test with breathalyzerBlood alcohol content (BAC) is a measured standard used to determine whether someone is able to safely operate a vehicle, bicycle, or other mode of transportation on Colorado’s roadways. Law enforcement agencies in the state make hundreds of arrests every year based on BAC. The 2022 Summer Blitz enforcement event saw a total of 186 DUI arrests, and the Memorial Day weekend enforcement resulted in 125 arrests across 83 agencies, bringing the year-to-date total of enforcement period arrests to 704. 

So much is riding on your BAC reading within two hours of being stopped by law enforcement. If your BAC exceeds the legal limit, you are subject to a DUI “per se,” which simply means the law considers that anyone’s driving is impaired at that level. Nonetheless, that does not mean a BAC reading can’t be questioned. The legality of the stop, the administration of the test, and the reliability and maintenance of the testing device can all call the reading into question. Moreover, so can a number of factors unrelated to the device itself.  

I understand the factors that can affect BAC, and I’m not timid about investigating them in the course of my defense of clients arrested in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, Longmont, or Louisville, Colorado. If you want a DUI defense attorney who will explore every option, call me, Attorney Jennifer Watkins, at my firm, Watkins Law Firm LLC.  

Can You Explain Blood Alcohol Content to Me? 

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of the percentage of alcohol present in your blood. That percentage depends on various factors, including the number and volume of drinks and their alcohol content, as well as the period of time in which you consumed them. 

At .08% and above, an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) is a given for anyone. That’s the legal limit established by Colorado law, which presumes everyone suffers from intoxication at that level. From .05% to under .08%, you may get a citation for driving while ability impaired (DWAI) if you exhibit a lack of control.  

As you can imagine, how alcohol affects someone’s ability to operate a vehicle safely is as individual as people are themselves. That’s where those factors that can affect BAC come into play.  

What Factors Might Affect BAC? 

Many factors can affect your BAC. Here are some of them and why: 

  • People who are taller or weigh more have higher levels of water in their bloodstream. Water dilutes alcohol. So, a petite person weighing 110 pounds will have a higher percentage of alcohol in their bloodstream after drinking a pint of beer than someone six feet tall weighing twice as much.  

  • Women tend to have lower bodily water content, so even if they’re the same size as a man and they consume the same amount of alcohol in the same amount of time, the woman’s BAC will likely be higher.  

  • Fat has less water than muscle, so those with muscular builds will dilute alcohol faster.  

  • You should also know that drinking doesn’t age well. As people get older, they tend to exhibit signs of intoxication much more quickly than they did when they were young.  

  • How fast you drink also determines your BAC. If you space out your beverages enough to allow absorption of alcohol to finish before you have another drink, you can keep your BAC under the legal limit. Naturally, how quickly that occurs depends on the other factors discussed here, but for the average man, it is about one hour.  

  • Certain medications may affect a BAC reading. Not surprisingly, they are usually those that warn you to not consume alcohol while taking them. These include cold and allergy medications, antibiotics, pain medications, and medications that treat diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety, to name a few. Interactions between certain medications and alcohol are likely to cause quicker impairment.  

  • Drinking water while drinking alcohol will help dilute the latter in the bloodstream. However, your intake of food is also important. Food absorbs the alcohol in your stomach which keeps it there, rather than in your bloodstream, for a longer period. That is why it is wise to not drink on an empty stomach.  

  • Diabetes involves a glucose disorder, which is why diabetics are usually advised to not consume alcohol because it raises glucose. Other health conditions can actually skew BAC readings. These include acid reflux, fever, gum disease, and even heart disease.  

  • Tolerance for alcohol is also a factor. Some people have a naturally-occurring higher tolerance than others. Their bodies process and break down alcohol more efficiently. Some people have a lower tolerance or even have a genetic condition that inhibits the breakdown of alcohol.  

Rely on Strong & Dependable Representation 

Being aware of the factors that can affect your BAC might help you avoid operating a vehicle when it is likely your BAC is over the legal limit. Some of these factors may also affect the strategies used by your criminal defense attorney. If you don’t think your BAC was high when you were stopped for DUI, we should talk.  

Contact me at Watkins Law Firm LLC in Boulder, Colorado, today. Let’s fully explore the factors that might have affected your BAC. Call now.