Many people who have a high alcohol tolerance may not necessarily feel drunk, but will have a high BAC level. Tolerance and BAC are different

Alfonso Gambone
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A Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer representing accused persons throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Holiday Season is upon us and many will travel to family and friends’ houses to eat large dinner, lunches  and in some cases brunch.  During these large meals, people will sometimes consume more alcohol than normal and Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Police are aware of this issue.  There’s increased police presence on the roads during this holiday because the State is concerned about the increased amount of traffic along with possible drunk drivers which create a safety hazard.

Can Food Really Effect Intoxication & Your BAC – NO!

A drunk driving charge can happen to anyone especially a person who believes that food consumption, an extra desert or coffee can totally negate the consumption of alcohol.  The legal limit in Pennsylvania is .08 and most people fail to understand the amount of alcohol that will put them at that legal limit.   Check out my article on calculating BAC for more information on this topic. Blood alcohol content or concentration (BAC) is the direct result of the ingestion of alcohol along with your height and weight.  Many people who have a high alcohol tolerance many not necessarily feel drunk, but will have a high BAC level.  Tolerance and BAC are mutually exclusive. 


What factors determine your BAC?

While a more frequent drinker many not feel the same effects of alcohol consumption (don’t feel as drunk) they may be over the legal limit.  The following factors affect the person’s BAC: 

  • Body weight
  • Gender
  • The number of drinks
  • How fast you drink
  • Body type


It is very important to understand that you can’t change your BAC simply with food.  Simply eating more turkey or a piece of bread to ‘soak up the alcohol” isn’t going to substantially change the amount of alcohol in your in your blood even if it makes you feel less drunk.  There are multiple factors in the BAC equation. 


When can police stop your car?


If you’re traveling this holiday be aware that police can stop a car based on reasonable suspicion and don’t probably cause.  This means that you don’t have to be necessary violating the traffic code (speeding, running a red light, stop sign) for police to stop you.  Police can stop a car based on suspicion of possible DUI if they believe that the vehicle is moving too slow or operating in an odd manner (continuous breaking).  My book “5 Ways to Fight & Win Your DUI Case in Pennsylvania” is an excellent resource and I encourage you to read it and watch my videos on this topic. 


While the consumption of food might slightly change your BAC, there’s a number of other factors which control it.  People often misunderstand what is defined as a drink of alcohol.  An alcoholic drink is defined as an of following:


  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 12 ounces of wine cooler
  • 1 mixed drink
  • 12 ounce regular beer

What Should You Do If You’re Stopped For DUI?

If you’re stopped for suspicion of DUI, you should not refuse the breathalyzer or blood test.  If the officer wants you to take a field sobriety test, you should inform the officer of any physical limitations that you may have.  Again, all of these issues are discussed in my book and I encourage you to read it.   I wish you and your family a Happy Holiday Season 

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