This Chicago DUI Lawyer points out that there are a surprising number of studies out there documenting the role of habitual alcohol use in increasing a drinker's tolerance to alcohol and resistance to its effects. Illinois DUI Defense Lawyers will note that alcohol tolerance is characterized by two important factors:
The effects of the alcohol on your body decrease with repeated exposure to the same dose of alcohol.
To achieve the original effects you experienced from the alcohol, the dose must be increased.
Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys are aware that an increased level of alcohol tolerance resulting from habitual use of alcohol causes modifications to your nervous system and your metabolism. Increase alcohol tolerance occurs because decreased amounts of alcohol reach the areas where its effects are produced, and because your tissue has achieved a lower rate of responsiveness to alcohol.
Chicago DUI Lawyers realize that there exist several theories on this subject. One thought says that repeated exposure to alcohol causes your cellular membranes to become more rigid through increases in the cell membrane's cholesterol content or the cell's content of saturated fat.
Another theory postulates that habitual alcohol consumption changes the brain's alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme activity and the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA.
Yet another hypothesis states that alcohol might interfere with the sodium and potassium channels required for transmission of electrical nerve cell impulses. Under this theory, habitual alcohol use causes an increase in activity of the enzyme responsible for activating your sodium and potassium channels. This higher level of enzymatic activity helps compensate for the interference cause by the alcohol in the conduction of nerve cell impulses.
This Illinois DUI Defense Attorney emphasizes that increased alcohol tolerance may be a result of all of these mechanisms, as well as of others. Regardless of the mechanisms behind an increased level of alcohol tolerance in habitual drinkers, both scientific documentation and anecdotal observations confirm that it exists.
Behavioral tolerance results when a drinker learns to mask or compensate for the outward manifestations of intoxication by repeatedly practicing physical skills at high levels of alcohol consumption. For instance, Illinois DUI Defense Lawyers well know that hardened drinkers sometimes perform better in physical tasks like walking and driving than less experienced drinkers.
There is generally no solid correlation between the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level and driving performance for people with alcohol tolerance. One study out of Indiana University's Department of Police Administration showed that where there are two drivers at the same BAC level, the one that drinks less frequently had the higher probability of being involved in a collision. (R. Borkenstein, et al, The Role of the Drinking Driver in Traffic Accidents, 1964). Basically, habitual drinkers with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10% are less likely to cause traffic accidents than infrequent drinkers having the same BAC level.
Acquired tolerance occurs when repeated exposure to alcohol has altered the way the body absorbs, distributes, and eliminates alcohol from the body. Chicago DUI Lawyers know that this aspect of acquired tolerance is called dispositional tolerance. Another aspect, called cellular tolerance, results from the increased resistance of the habitual drinker's cells to the effects of alcohol.
Acute tolerance results when the individual suffers less impairment from alcohol's effects in the falling (elimination) stage of alcohol consumption than during the rising (alcohol absorption) stage even though he has the same BAC in both stages. So an Illinois DUI Defense Attorney could demonstrate that the drinker will actually be less impaired a longer time after drinking than very soon after drinking. A Chicago DUI Lawyer could point out that this stands in contrast to the usual alcohol impairment curve, where the average (or alcohol intolerant) drinker typically reaches a peak impairment and peak BAC about 1.5 hours after drinking on an empty stomach.
Habitual drinkers become desensitized to the effects of alcohol over time. They require ever-greater doses of alcohol to achieve intoxication effects. Heavy drinkers become desensitized to the point that they experience greater stimulant effects from alcohol and fewer of the sedative (depressive) and aversive effects of less experienced drinkers.
Research has shown that alcoholics experience an increased level of alcohol tolerance at BACs that would be fatal for most people. In one study involving 54 people with BACs of 0.20% or above, 24% of them showed no signs of clinical intoxication. (JA Perper, et al, Tolerance at High Blood Alcohol Concentrations: A Study of 110 Cases and Review of the Literature, Forensic Sci, Jan 1986, 31(1): 212-221.)
A study evaluating 32 patients with BACs of 0.30% or above revealed that 17 of them (53%) showed little clinical sign of intoxication. (AR Davis and AH Lipson, Central Nervous System Tolerance to High Blood Alcohol Levels, Med J Aust, Jan 1986, 144(1): 9-12.)
Illinois DUI Defense Attorney Michael Schmiege understands that proving your increased level of alcohol tolerance might be significant to the outcome of your DUI case. Juries probably know heavy drinking relatives who exhibit no signs of alcohol intoxication at family gatherings. A weight of scientific evidence shows that the bodies of habitual drinkers develop defenses to alcohol's effects over time and that these drinkers might present less danger behind the wheel than less experienced drinkers.
Let Chicago DUI Lawyer Michael P. Schmiege help you defeat your DUI charge. Contact him today for a free case evaluation consultation. (312) 906-7800
NOT GUILTY – Possession of a Controlled Substance w/ Intent to Deliver
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol – NOT GUILTY
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