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What is the science behind breathalyzer tests? — II

Last time, we discussed how even though virtually everyone understands that Maryland law enforcement officials use breathalyzer tests to verify their suspicions about impaired driving, most people are nevertheless lacking a firm idea about the science behind the device.

In today’s post, we’ll continue this discussion about breathalyzer tests in an attempt to clarify any misconceptions and provide some much-needed straight answers.

Are there certain factors that can affect a person’s blood alcohol concentration?

Yes, there are actually several factors that can affect a person’s BAC and, by extension, their ability to legally drive a car in the state of Maryland.

First and foremost, the alcohol content of the drink consumed should be taken into account, as the more a person consumes of a drink with a higher alcohol concentration, the greater their chances of being legally intoxicated.

To illustrate, a person who consumes two martinis is likely to have a higher BAC than a person who consumes two light beers. 

Another factor that can affect a person’s blood alcohol content is the speed with which they consume alcohol, such that the more alcohol a person consumes within a certain timeframe, the higher their BAC is likely to be.

For instance, a person doing shots in rapid succession will have a much higher BAC than a person merely sipping a drink during that same timeframe.

What about food and water, do they affect a person’s BAC?

Yes. If a person has eaten a fair amount before drinking, then some of the alcohol can be diluted by the food, such that it is absorbed into the bloodstream that much more slowly. Water can also act in much the same way.

All this is, of course, contingent upon the amount of alcohol consumed. Indeed, a person can still be well above the legal limit even though they feel fine.

What about a person’s weight?

The prevailing belief is that the more a person weighs, the lower their BAC is likely to be after alcohol consumption. Experts indicate that’s because there is more water present in the bodies of people who weigh more and, as outlined above, this serves to dilute alcohol consumed.

Once again, this is all contingent upon the amount of alcohol consumed.

If you’ve made the mistake of getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink and fail a breathalyzer test, consider contacting an experienced and dedicated legal professional as soon as possible.   

Source: Esurance, “Blood alcohol concentration and breathalyzers: How it works,” Jessica Guerin, Accessed Nov. 13, 2014 

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