June 18, 2015 By Matthew Wallin
Breathalyzer_study - BAC
Common myths about BAC and DUI

If you have ever been arrested for driving under the influence, you are undoubtedly aware that one of the most important pieces of evidence in the investigation is your blood alcohol content level (BAC). As you consume alcohol, your BAC will rise as the alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream and passes through your digestive tract. Your BAC may continue to rise even if your last drink was consumed two hours earlier.

In California, it is a violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(b) to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or more, regardless of whether the alcohol actually impaired your driving. However, it is important to know that you can have a BAC of less than the legal limit of 0.08% and still be charged with a DUI.

You can be charged with violating Vehicle Code section 23152(a), which is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This allows the prosecution to convict you if they can prove that alcohol affected your reflexes and judgment in a manner that makes you unsafe as a driver, even if you did not consume enough alcohol to meet the legal limit.

Regardless of which charge you are facing, your BAC can be an important piece of evidence as it can be used to show that you either exceeded the legal limit or that you had consumed alcohol when the police believed you to be under the influence. So, it is in your best interest to know how you can reduce your BAC before you get in your car to drive home for the night.

Most of us have heard the tales about how people can quickly reduce their BAC. There is the story of the friend of a friend who avoided a DUI by drinking a gallon of water to flush the alcohol out of his system. Maybe you heard the one about the distant cousin who ate half of a loaf of bread to soak up the tequila shots she drank an hour earlier. With so many myths getting in the way of the truth, how can anyone keep the facts about the factors that influence your BAC? To help you separate myth from truth, here are some factors that may affect the rate at which you will absorb alcohol into your system.

“My weight and body type influence my BAC…”

This is TRUE. A person’s weight and body type are factors that affect the rate at which he or she will absorb alcohol. Generally, a lighter person will have a higher rate of absorption than a heavier person. However, a person with a low percentage of body fat will usually have a lower BAC than a person who has a higher body fat percentage. The reason? Higher weight individuals tend to have higher volumes of water in their bodies, which slows the rate at which alcohol is absorbed.1

“My gender has no effect on my BAC…”

gender bac
Your gender may play a part in your BAC. This is contributed by differing levels of dehydrogenase and body fat in men and women.

This is FALSE. There are important physiological and anatomical differences between men and women that affect the rate at which alcohol is absorbed. For example, women have less of the enzyme dehydrogenase. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down alcohol in the stomach. The lack of dehydrogenase means more alcohol reaches the small intestine, which means that, on average, a female will tend to absorb more alcohol into the bloodstream than a male drinking the same amount of alcohol. Additionally, women tend to have higher percentages of body fat and a lower percentage of water, which as discussed above, can lead to increased BAC measurements.2

“I drank a gallon of water after I had alcohol, so I should be fine, right?”

WRONG. The only way your body removes alcohol is through the natural processes that occur in your liver. You cannot simply drown your BAC with water. The best way to lower your BAC is to stop drinking for the night and let your body’s natural processes do their work.

“What are some other factors that may increase my BAC?”

Aside from the obvious factor of increasing the amount of alcohol you drink, there are several other factors that could lead to a higher BAC. These include:

  • The medications you have taken
  • Illnesses that cause dehydration
  • Short intervals between drinks
  • The alcoholic content of the beverage
  • Drinking on an empty stomach


Contact the DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

attorneys - DUI BAC
Contact the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today if you have been arrested for DUI with a BAC over .08%.

If you or someone you care about has been convicted of a DUI, you will need an experienced an aggressive attorney to help you with your defense. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully helping clients like you defeat DUI charges in California. We know that a DUI case is not always easy for a prosecutor to prove, and we know how to use the science behind alcohol absorption to your advantage. Let us help you, too. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI defense near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. Alcohol Absorption, Distribution & Elimination, ForCon Forensic Consulting, available at http://forcon.ca/learning/alcohol.html

2. Absorption Rate Factors, The University of Notre Dame McDonald Center for Student Well-Being, available at http://oade.nd.edu/educate-yourself-alcohol/absorbtion-rate-factors/

Your Answer

1 comment

  1. This has some flaws. If Dehydration causes increase in BAC percentage, why wouldn’t Hydration cause a decrease in BAC percentage? The truth of the matter is that hydration can lower BAC (a little) through dilution just as when a Diabetic drinks a lot of water, it lowers Blood sugar percentage in the body. It is only a ratio. People get confused with this (just as you did in this article) as BAC as a percentage has nothing to do with the length of time to metabolize the amount of alcohol that was consumed.

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