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10 Factors that Impact Your BAC


After having a few or more drinks during a night out, many people still feel confident enough about driving home safely. However, no matter how you feel after drinking, it is still possible you could be spending the night in a jail cell after a police officer pulls you over for a minor traffic offense, smells alcohol from within the vehicle, and asks you to take a breathalyzer test. 

The breathalyzer will determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount of alcohol present in the blood based on how much you consumed over a given period. Although it is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you consume, you must also know about the factors that contribute to BAC. 

The following are the 10 common factors that affect your BAC: 

  1. Gender – Men’s bodies create more of the protective enzyme that breaks down alcohol prior to entering the bloodstream. On the other hand, women’s bodies have less water and more fatty tissue compared to men's bodies, so they usually obtain a higher BAC if they consume the same amount of alcohol as their counterparts. Additionally, BAC is also higher right before a woman’s menstruation than any other time. 

  1. Body type – The more you weigh, the more water you have in your body to dilute the alcohol you consume. Therefore, a small, framed person may have a higher BAC than a large, framed individual who has consumed the same amount of alcohol. 

  1. Metabolism – The “metabolic rate” describes the rate at which alcohol is processed by the body and is impacted by diet, fitness, digestion, hormonal cycle, and emotional state. 

  1. Amount of body fat – Since body fat doesn’t absorb alcohol and must remain in the bloodstream until it is broken down by the liver, alcohol is more concentrated in individuals with a high proportion of body fat. 

  1. Food – Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach will lead to a higher BAC in comparison to a person who has eaten prior to drinking. Food keeps the alcohol you consume in your stomach and slows down the absorption of it in your bloodstream. 

  1. Percentage of alcohol – The more alcohol a drink has, the higher the BAC. 

  1. Consumption rate – The faster you drink alcohol, the quicker your BAC will increase. 

  1. The type of alcohol – Carbonated drinks like champagne or cocktails with soda are absorbed faster and may lead to a higher BAC. 

  1. The use of other drugs – Prescription drugs and other forms of medication may intensify the effects of alcohol, as well as decrease motor skills and alertness. Stimulants such as cocaine and ecstasy may make a person feel mor sober than they really are and result in serious dehydration. 

  1. Emotional state – Mood can affect how the body processes alcohol. For example, stress can cause your body to divert blood from your stomach and small intestine to your muscles, decreasing the alcohol absorption rate into your bloodstream. But when you calm down, your blood will flow normally again, resulting in a significant surge in your BAC. 

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Santa Barbara, CA, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or complete our online contact form today for a free case evaluation. Our legal team consists of two former prosecutors with more than four decades of collective experience. 

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