Can certain factors change a person's blood alcohol content level?

After consuming alcohol, there are many factors that can affect how quickly a person's blood alcohol content level rises, such as age and weight.

In Virginia, as well as in most other states in the U.S., it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.08, states the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Those who get arrested for drinking and driving with a BAC level at or above this limit face serious consequences, which may include jail time, loss of driving privileges and fine requirements.

Understanding alcohol's impact

When people consume alcohol, their small intestine and their stomach soak it up and eventually send the alcohol through the bloodstream. After this occurs, the liver is responsible for processing it.

However, the human liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol on an hourly basis. Whatever alcohol remains in the bloodstream while waiting for processing contributes to the alcohol content level. There are also certain factors that can impact how quickly alcohol moves into the bloodstream following consumption, and they include some of the following:

  • Drink strength-Different types of drinks, even those within the same family, have different alcohol concentrations. The higher the concentration in the drink, the higher a person's BAC level will be.
  • Age-After consuming the same type and amount of an alcoholic beverage, an older person will typically have a higher BAC level than a younger one.
  • Gender-Generally speaking, BAC level rises faster in women than in men.
  • Food in the stomach-Those who eat before drinking and while they consume alcohol may find that their BAC level goes up slower than if they drank on an empty stomach.
  • Weight-The less a person weighs, the higher his or her BAC level will go up after consuming alcohol.

Other factors that can impact how quickly a person's BAC level rises include his or her race and ethnicity and any medicine or drugs being taken.

Penalties for drinking and driving

The penalties for DUI in Virginia are severe and depend on how many prior DUI convictions a person has on his or her record. For example, according to the Virginia DMV, those convicted of drinking and driving for the first time face a mandatory, minimum $250 fine while those convicted of DUI for the second time must pay a mandatory, minimum fine of $500.

Those facing penalties for a DUI arrest in Virginia may worry about the impact a potential conviction could have financially and personally on their life. In this situation, those facing DUI charges should reach out to an attorney in their area who can provide legal guidance and assistance.