Alcohol Effects On The Body
Alcohol Effects On The Body
This article is designed to teach you the various alcohol effects on the body. It will help you gauge whether or not the breath testing machine you were tested on was accurate. This guide can serve as the beginning of a breath test defense. If, after reading “Alcohol Effects On The Body,” you find a discrepancy between your test and what “should” have been your result, bring this to the attention of your DUI defense attorney. This guide was taken from the Operator’s Manual of the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test machine and prepared for the State of Ohio, Department of Health.
Absorption of Alcohol
• Alcohol can enter the body in several different ways: injection, inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion (drinking).
• Absorption through the skin and absorption through inhalation result in very little alcohol being introduced into the body. It is virtually impossible to have any significant concentration build up in the body in these ways.
• Alcohol is absorbed unchanged, not digested.
• Only a small amount of alcohol will be absorbed through the lining of the mouth. All traces of alcohol will be gone from the mouth within 15 to 20 minutes after the last drink, thus the 20 minute observation period before any breath test in Ohio.
• The majority of alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine.
• Food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol.
• Stomach content is the single greatest determinant in the absorption rate of alcohol.
Alcohol in the Human Body
• Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is the specific alcohol that is present in alcoholic beverages.
• Ethyl alcohol is less toxic that other alcohols, but all alcohols are toxic and if a sufficient quantity is consumed, death will result.
• Characteristics of ethanol: Colorless Mixes readily with water Slight odor Burning taste For the remainder of this text, the term alcohol will denote ethanol.
• Acetone, found in uncontrolled diabetics / diabetic crisis, closely matches the signs and symptoms of alcohol. The instrument will detect acetone and display as an Interferent Detect.
How Alcohol is Measured Dosage Forms of Alcohol
• A standard drink contains 12oz beer, 4oz wine, or 1oz hard liquor. A standard drink contains approximately one-half ounce of pure ethanol.
12oz beer x 4% alcohol = .48oz ethanol
4oz wine x 12% alcohol = .48oz ethanol
1oz liquor x 50% alcohol = .50oz ethanol
Distribution of Alcohol
• Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestine and stomach. It passes through the liver and travels to the right side of the heart. The heart pumps it to the lungs and it returns to the left side of the heart. The heart then distributes the alcohol throughout the body.
• Alcohol is distributed in proportion to body water because alcohol has an attraction to water.
• The greater the water content of a tissue, the greater its alcohol content will be in relation to other tissues.
Elimination of Alcohol
• Ethanol is removed from the body through metabolism in the liver, excretion, and evaporation. Metabolism accounts for virtually all of the elimination of alcohol. Approximately 90% of the alcohol is removed by metabolism.
• The elimination rate, used to be conservative, is 0.015% per hour.
• The only way to sober up is to allow the body to metabolize the alcohol. Exercise, caffeine or other stimulants will not speed up the process. While food in the stomach before drinking will slow the absorption of alcohol, eating after drinking will not affect the metabolism of alcohol.
Impairment & Alcohol Effects
- Alcohol acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which means that it slows down the responses of the CNS.
- Alcohol has a variety of effects, including reasoning and judgment (cognitive), physical senses (sensory), and motor. The final effect of impairment is death.
.60 Death occurs .
.40 Fatal dose in some persons
.27-.40 Unable to stand or walk, vomiting, lapses into sleep
.18-.30 Mental confusion, slurred speech, staggering
.18 Crash involvement increased dramatically (50+ times average)
.08-.10 Decreasing muscle control and hand coordination
.08 Illegal Per Se, all drivers impaired (National Safety Council)
.06 Vision focus recovery increases from.1 to .2 seconds
.05-.06 Fine motor skills impaired (gaze nystagmus may be noticed)
.05 AMA Recommendation for per se level
.04 DOT limit for CDL .04 Increased crash involvement
.04 Decreased night vision, glare recovery, depth perception
.03-.10 More sociable, loss of attention, judgment & intellect impaired
.025 Alcohol content of 150 pound man with one standard drink
.02 Impairment begins, DOT screening level
.01.-05 Drinker appears normal