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The drunk driving defense of rising blood alcohol levels

If you drink several beers quickly, it may take some time before you are too drunk to drive. That's because your body will need to process the beverage through your stomach, and you will not feel the effects of the alcoholic beverage immediately.

It's because of this scientific fact that DUI lawyers sometimes use the theory of "Rising Blood Alcohol Concentration" to defend their clients against a drunk driving charge.

How does the defense of rising blood alcohol concentration work?

The theory of rising blood alcohol concentration will not work as a defense in all cases. In order for it to work, the defendant needs to be sober enough to drive at the time of the traffic stop -- i.e., at the time that he or she was driving. Then, after waiting some time, police administered a blood alcohol test, which the defendant failed. The failed test happened because the defendant's blood alcohol level rose above .08 percent while he or she was waiting.

Here are some things to consider before moving forward with a rising blood alcohol defense:

  • The speed at which alcohol absorbs is different for everyone, depending on their body weight, how much and what kind of food they ate before drinking and their personal physiology.
  • It can take as long as two hours after drinking an alcoholic beverage for the alcohol to absorb into the bloodstream at its highest levels.
  • Sometimes, individuals can drink an alcoholic beverage and safely arrive at his or her destination before the alcohol reaches its max absorption level.
  • The normal speed of metabolizing alcohol translates into .01 percent blood alcohol content per hour. However, food, non-alcoholic beverages, the type of alcohol and other factors can affect this speed.
  • Breathalyzers in the field are not always accurate. Also, the driver's breath might have a lot of alcohol in it if a beer was recently consumed, but the driver might not actually be too inebriated to drive.
  • With women drivers, blood alcohol levels rise faster than with men because women don't have as much water in their bloodstreams.

Were you sober enough to drive?

In every DUI case, the question of the court will remain the same: Was this driver too drunk to legally drive? If a defendant can cast doubt on the facts and evidence presented by the prosecution, he or she may be able to achieve a verdict of not guilty. However, if a conviction is likely to occur, the defendant might want to negotiate a plea bargain to seek a reduced punishment.

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