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DUI Attorney Explains How Blood Alcohol Levels are Calculated

What Our DUI Attorneys Want You to Know About Determining Your Blood Alcohol Level

There are three types of tests used to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC):

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Breath tests

Breath tests are most commonly used because the results are available instantly. The other two methods require analysis in a lab.

What is your Blood Alcohol Level?

Your blood alcohol level (BAC) evaluates the amount of alcohol in your blood stream. This is easily tested because alcohol is absorbed directly by your blood instead of being digested like food. Alcohol typically gets absorbed by your blood within 50 minutes of when you drink it.

Alcohol travels to all of your cells through your blood stream. Once the alcohol reaches your brain, it impairs your reflexes and neurological functioning, causing you to become intoxicated.

Alcohol gets processed by your liver and eliminated from your body through your breath, sweat, and urine. Your metabolism determines how fast alcohol is expelled from your body. As you continue to drink alcohol, your BAC will start to rise and you will feel intoxicated. Your BAC generally rises by .02 for every drink you consume above one per hour.

Breath Tests

In order for a breath test to provide an accurate reading, you need to give a continuous breath sample for at least 30 seconds. Alcohol concentrations in your breath have a 2100:1 relationship to the alcohol levels in your blood. In other words, 2,100 milliliters of air contains the same alcohol content as 1 milliliter of blood.

Blood Tests

Whole blood is made up of cellular material, plasma, and fibrinogen (a clotting agent). Sometimes, the blood test performed to determine your BAC only evaluates the plasma or serum (plasma without fibrinogen). This will cause problems with your BAC reading.

When you remove the solid material from your blood, you are left with the same amount of alcohol in a smaller volume of liquid. This will raise the alcohol concentration in your blood liquid, resulting in an artificially high BAC. Serum and plasma BAC measurements are approximately 16% higher than whole blood BAC measurements.

If you are given a blood test, make sure they are testing whole blood. Otherwise, the test will not be accurate and the skewed results will not be in your favor. Don’t be afraid to ask the lab tech precisely what is being tested. If it is not whole blood, you will need this information for your defense.

Jimeno & Gray, P.A., Can Help

At Jimeno & Gray P.A., we specialize in handling DUI cases. We cater our defense to the specifics of your case so that we can help you receive the most favorable verdict possible. Our experienced DUI lawyers can help save you a lot of money and possibly some jail time.

If you have been charged with a DUI in the state of Maryland, please contact Jimeno & Gray, P.A., today to schedule an consultation.

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