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4 factors that can determine BAC levels

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2023 | DWI

Blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is what a breathalyzer measures when the police stop you with reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs. In North Carolina, you are legally drunk when your BAC is 0.08 or higher, and 0.04 or higher for commercial drivers.

However, some factors significantly contribute to the result a breathalyzer provides. Here are four of them.

1. Weight 

When two people with different weights drink the same amount of alcohol, the heavier one may have a lower BAC level. The more weight someone has, the more water they have in their blood, which means alcohol is diluted faster. 

2. Gender

Women have lower body water than men. Due to this, a woman may have a higher BAC level than a man who drank the same levels of alcohol as her. 

Further, men have higher levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), a crucial enzyme in alcohol metabolism, than women. This means that men metabolize alcohol more efficiently, which can result in a lower BAC level.

3. Age

A person’s ability to metabolize alcohol declines with age. This is due to a decrease in ADH levels as someone gets older. 

The volume of body water also decreases with age. Thus, an older person may take longer to eliminate alcohol from the body or dilute it. Accordingly, their BAC levels can be high.

4. Time

If you drink even one glass of wine and are stopped a few minutes later, your BAC levels may be high. However, if you take time before a test is administered, your body may have already eliminated most of the alcohol.

This guide helps you understand why BAC levels can differ between people who drank the same amount of alcohol. If you are charged with a DUI, you should consider your options to defend yourself.