DUI & Gender: Alcohol Absorption & Metabolism Rate – Men vs. Women

Alfonso Gambone
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Alfonso Gambone is a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney dedicated to protecting your rights.

DUI & Gender

A drunk driving criminal charge doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sex. Women, in fact, are more at risk for this type of criminal offense because they, due to their body composition, have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than men after consuming the same amount of alcohol!  As I’ve written in a previous article, a person’s weight, gender, quantity and the type of food consumed with alcohol will impact an individual’s alcohol absorption and its metabolism rate.

A male drinker, for example can metabolize one standard drink in about 2 hours, 3 drinks in approximately 6 hours and 4 drinks in approximately 7 hours. This means that an adult male would have a BAC of zero, about seven hours after he consumed 4 drinks.  A female drinker wouldn’t metabolize this alcohol at the same rate because the female body contains less water.  Metabolism is the process by which the body detoxifies alcohol and removes it from the body.  Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and BAC is measured in terms of weight per volume; it’s usually reported in grams (i.e. 08 g/dl).

There is a reason why Pennsylvania, New Jersey and virtually all of the states maintain drunk driving laws which specify that a person is legally intoxicated at .08 BAC. Alcohol impairs driving whenever a person’s BAC goes above zero but approximately 94% of persons experience significant impairment at .08% BAC.  In Pennsylvania, a person is legally intoxicated if their BAC is .08 (CDL legal impairment is .04%) within 2 hours of driving (3802(a)(1) doesn’t require a specific BAC).

In a criminal prosecution for DUI, the district attorney or prosecutor will attempt to introduce BAC through breath or blood results. While a blood test measures the amount of alcohol within a person’s blood stream, a breath test measure the amount of alcohol that actually escapes the metabolism process and is excreted, unchanged, in breath.  The breath test, however, requires that results be converted through the blood-breath ratio (BBR).  The standard conversion factor is 2,100 but studies show that BBR can vary from 1,981 to 2,833, depending on the individual.

With regards to blood testing, the prosecution must introduce whole blood results as opposed to blood serum results. The alcohol concentration in whole blood is generally 14-15 percent lower than blood serum.  Even with whole blood, your criminal defense lawyer should also consider the quality of the laboratory, the type and purity of the blood specimen, the chain of custody and the storage temperature of the sample.

Remember that for men or women, the results of chemical testing are obviously prejudicial to the accused person in a DUI prosecution, the issue however, is if your criminal defense attorney can establish that the prejudicial value of the results exceeds the probative value. In addition to your gender, your lawyer should consider the following factors during the preparation of your defense:

  1. The time the BAC level was determined
  2. The BAC level at the time of testing
  3. The time the sample was drawn
  4. The method by which the BAC was determined
  5. The time of driving
  6. The time the last drink was consumed
  7. The amount of alcohol consumed
  8. The amount of time between the last drink and the testing
  9. The amount and type of food, if any, which was consumed
  10. The person’s height, weight, mental state, and drinking pattern

For more information on DUI defense, visit my free download section and get a copy of my free book – 5 Ways to Fight and Win Your Pennsylvania DUI Case!