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Estimating Peak Alcohol Concentration

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After you drink, the level of alcohol in your blood does not rise on a smooth and linear incline, then level off to a predictable plateau, or decline smoothly either as an expert’s graph or chart might imply. In tests where BAC (blood alcohol concentration) levels are tested frequently over time, at 5 or 10 minute intervals for instance, graphs of the results reveal a zigzag or saw tooth pattern of fluctuating rises and falls.

Chicago DUI Defense Lawyers know that estimates regarding Peak Alcohol Concentration tend to be oversimplified. Some organizations have produced cards designed to predict a person’s blood alcohol concentration after you’ve consumed a certain amount of alcohol. But these handy cards don’t account for other critical factors that can strongly affect your BAC. An Illinois DUI Attorney could tell you that your weight, age, gender, fat to muscle ratio, overall state of health, the amount of food in your stomach when you drink, and other factors can determine how quickly you reach peak BAC level and what that BAC level is.

For instance, women generally contain less body water than men. Therefore, a woman of the same weight as a man who drinks the same amount of alcohol will tend to reach a higher BAC level because she has less body fluid to dilute the alcohol. And those with a greater muscle to fat ratio that are in better physical condition will tend to have a larger vascular system to carry their blood and will therefore tend to have lower blood alcohol concentrations. And those who drink on full stomachs will tend to take longer to reach their peak BAC levels and will generally have lower BAC levels.

Predicting the Time of Peak Alcohol Absorption

Because of the many factors affecting your rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream, predicting the time at which you might reach your peak BAC level is a task burdened with potential error. Attorneys understand that in court, when “experts” are called to make such an estimate, those who employ a conservative approach to the task will tend to reach conclusions with a greater degree of accuracy.

A conservative estimate that covers the range of peak alcohol absorption times might apply to 95% to 99% of the population, and will also generate a much broader timeframe for the peak alcohol concentration period. As an example, peak alcohol absorption when drinking on an empty stomach will occur for about 95% of the population 1.5 hours after consuming the alcohol. Experienced Illinois DUI Attorneys realize that a miniscule portion of the population, with unusually high metabolic rates, might achieve peak BAC 15 minutes after having a drink.

If you are one of that miniscule fraction of the population with a high metabolic rate, expert testimony that presents a conservative estimate of peak alcohol concentration times will be inapplicable and misleading in your case. An aggressive challenge by your lawyer could help convince the jury of that estimate’s inaccuracy.

Most states in this country have laws that allow a presumption that the driver remains at the same BAC level at the time of his or her BAC test as they held at the time they were behind the wheel so long as the BAC test occurs within a set period of time after the driver is stopped by the police.Attorneys caution that this mandated time period can cover a period of hours.

But scientific evidence and research results indicate that this mandated timeframe is unreliable. Even with the same drinking pattern, individuals’ BAC levels and alcohol absorption and elimination times can vary so widely as to make the legal BAC presumption meaningless. But legal presumptions are generally rebuttable. And careful work by a knowledgeable and dedicated Illinois DUI Attorney could effectively show that the presumption is wrong is your case.

An aggressive defense can also show that your drinking pattern, the amount of food you consumed, and other factors make the prosecution’s estimate of your peak alcohol concentration inaccurate. Because of the irregular opening of the pyloric valve (about 3 times per minute) to release stomach contents into the intestine, the rising alcohol or absorption phase tends to show more fluctuating peaks and valleys in BAC levels than the plateau phase or the falling alcohol phase.

Contact Illinois DUI Attorney Michael P. Schmiege

Dedicated Chicago DUI Defense Lawyer Michael Schmiege has the skill and knowledge to address issues of estimated peak alcohol concentration that you might face in court. He understands the factors that can influence your alcohol absorption and elimination rates and how to challenge the court’s estimate of your peak BAC time. Let aggressive Michael Schmiege challenge the prosecution’s estimates of your BAC level and provide an effective defense to your DUI charge. Contact him today for your free legal consultation case evaluation.

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