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Factors that Can Affect
Your Blood Alcohol Content

Underwood Law Firm Feb. 18, 2022

Law hammer, alcohol and car keys on wooden tableCalifornia law treats DUIs very seriously. Even though alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have been declining, there are still over 1,000 people a year who are killed due to drunk driving in the state. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it’s imperative you understand the severity of your situation, even if you feel you’ve been unfairly charged. Your best line of defense is always to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who will listen to your side of the story, sort through the evidence, and ensure the facts of your case are presented clearly. Law enforcement officers can make mistakes and roadside measures like field sobriety or breathalyzers can give inaccurate results. If you’re facing DUI charges but question the validity of a breath, blood, or urine test, contact our DUI lawyers at Underwood Law Firm today. Our office is in Bakersfield, California, but we’re able to serve individuals throughout Kern County, including Lamont.

Blood Alcohol Content in California

Your blood alcohol content (or concentration) (BAC) measures the amount of alcohol in your blood supply and is represented as a percentage. As with every state in the country, California has a .08% BAC limit for operating a vehicle. This means that you’re legally intoxicated once your BAC reaches .08% or higher. However, this limit only applies to those above the age of 21. If you’re a minor, California has a “zero tolerance” policy, which means that if you have anything higher than .01% BAC, you’re legally considered to be intoxicated and can be charged with a DUI if you’re caught operating a vehicle. Additionally, if you’re operating a commercial vehicle, you’re considered intoxicated if you have a BAC of over .04% with or without a CDL license.

When you’re pulled over under suspicion of DUI, an officer will typically look for signs of impairment and intoxication such as slurred words, the smell of alcohol, or bloodshot eyes while they ask you questions. Then, they may give you a series of field sobriety tests such as standing on one leg or walking in a straight line, and they may request that you perform a handheld breathalyzer test to measure your BAC level. If you are arrested, you may also be given the choice of submitting a urine or blood test in addition to the breathalyzer test. While California has an implied consent law to submit to a breathalyzer test, you do not have to submit to an additional blood or urine test. These BAC tests are used widely in courts as proof of intoxication, but they can be inaccurate.

Factors That Can Affect
Your Blood Alcohol Content

A high BAC level will undoubtedly be used against you when trying to prove you were driving under the influence. However, there are several factors that can affect your BAC level that have nothing to do with how much alcohol you consumed, and it’s important that you and your lawyer are knowledgeable about these when formulating your defense strategy. A skilled attorney will uncover any discrepancy that could have artificially resulted in a higher BAC level and use it to fight the validity of your charges.

The main concern about breathalyzer tests is they don’t account for the individual taking the test, since a 120lb woman takes the same test as a 200lb man. Factors like height and weight can dramatically change how alcohol affects you and how fast your body metabolizes it. Unsurprisingly, people who weigh more tend to show a lower BAC than those who weigh less, even if they've both had the same amount to drink. Women also tend to process alcohol at a slower rate than men because they typically have more body fat. There’s less blood flow in fat, and therefore, the alcohol is more concentrated in a woman’s body compared to a man who may have more muscle mass. Certain medications such as asthma inhalers, over-the-counter cold medications, or mouthwashes can also affect the results of a breathalyzer, as well as medical conditions like diabetes or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Other factors such as your rate of alcohol consumption, what foods you may have eaten right before your test, your overall tolerance for alcohol, the altitude, and your feeling of fatigue can all affect your results. This is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who’s familiar with these factors and can potentially use them to contest the results of an alcohol test. At the Underwood Law Firm, we can seek to show that the test the officer used was inaccurate and help you move forward from your DUI accusation.

How a DUI Defense Attorney Can Help You

A DUI charge is too serious to try to handle on your own, especially if you feel the charges are unwarranted due to a faulty alcohol test. If you’re looking for experienced and skillful DUI representation in the Bakersfield, California area, call us today to schedule a consultation. DUIs are worth fighting, and we're here to provide help.