How Alcohol is Absorbed, Distributed and Eliminated

The district attorney in your Pennsylvania DUI case will use your blood or breath test as a key piece of evidence against you. However, it may be possible to successfully challenge the chemical test evidence in your PA DUI case. Your Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. will thoroughly analyze the chemical test evidence in your driving under the influence case to determine whether it can be effectively challenged. To see how, it's helpful to understand how the human body absorbs, distributes and eliminates alcohol.

Even if your chemical test accurately reflected your blood alcohol content (BAC), it showed your BAC when the test was administered, not when you were driving. If more than two hours elapsed between the time you were stopped and the time you were tested, it may be possible to challenge your chemical test result in your Pennsylvania DUI case.

Gender, weight, metabolic rate, stomach contents, and many other human variables, all affect the way an individual metabolizes alcohol, so looking backward to determine your BAC while behind the wheel may be a challenge for authorities. This difficulty may work to your advantage in defending your Pennsylvania DUI charge.

When you drink of alcohol, it travels into your stomach before passing into your small intestine, where the majority of absorption occurs. The rate at which the alcohol metabolizes is impacted by the type of drink and whether you eat before or while drinking.

The alcohol elimination process begins almost immediately after you start drinking, but your body can't eliminate alcohol as quickly as it absorbs it. This is why BAC rises. Alcohol absorption in the body is often compared to a bathtub with a partially clogged drain - water flows in faster than it flows out, so the level increases.

Alcohol absorption continues after you stop drinking, causing your BAC to continue rising until it reaches a peak or plateau. At the peak, your body is absorbing and eliminating alcohol at the same rate, so your BAC remains the same for approximately 15 to 45 minutes, depending on your metabolic rate and stomach contents.

After the peak elimination stage, your body begins the elimination phase. If you don't drink any more alcohol, your BAC will steadily decrease at approximately .015 percent per hour. This is an average estimate - it depends on many factors, including gender, body weight, etc.

When shown as a graph, the metabolization of alcohol looks like a bell curve. Even if your chemical test indicated that your BAC exceeded the legal limit of .08 percent, the bell curve of alcohol absorption shows that you could have easily been under the legal limit while driving.

This is especially possible if your chemical test was administered while your body was still absorbing alcohol - the first half of the bell curve. Numerous studies show that breath tests performed during the absorptive phase overestimate true BAC by 40 to 100 percent.

Because so many factors influence alcohol absorption, distribution and elimination, it may be possible to effectively challenge your chemical test results in your Pennsylvania DUI case. For more information about fighting your drunk driving case, please contact the Pennsylvania DUI attorneys at Zachary B. Cooper, Attorney at Law, P.C. today for a free consultation.