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Indianapolis Criminal Attorney
John "Jack" Razumich
Criminal Attorney
Andrew Redd
Criminal Attorney


Understanding the Criminal Justice System

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Can Genetics Influence Blood Alcohol Content?

Let’s say you and your friends are out having a couple of drinks. When it’s time to settle up and head home, how do you determine whether or not you should drive home?

You might reason that you feel fine, barely even buzzed. Your buddy Sarah says she knows her tolerance, and she’s only had two beers, so she’s good to go. But Alex calls for an Uber. ‘I have this genetic condition,” he tells you. ‘My BAC is always weirdly high, even after one or two drinks. My dad was the same way.”

Could that be true? Let’s find out.

When Can You Drive After Drinking?

Not to be a buzzkill, but the answer should always be ‘never.”

No one can accurately judge their blood alcohol content based on their feelings, the number of drinks they’ve consumed, or any other factor. Even though you might think you know your tolerance, it’s still quite possible that, if stopped by the cops and given a breathalyzer, you’d blow higher than the legal BAC limit of .08.

The court system-and our country’s rehabs-are filled with folks who ‘felt fine,” got behind the wheel, and ended up in a wreck, jailed, or both.

Factors That Can Affect A Person’s BAC

The truth is, myriad factors influence a person’s BAC, including:

  • As people grow older, their ability to metabolize alcohol lessens.
  • Rate of consumption. The faster someone downs booze, the faster their BAC rises.
  • Alcohol is highly water-soluble, and folks who weigh more have more water in their body to ‘dilute” their BAC. That means it may take more alcohol for them to feel the effects. Conversely, smaller-bodied people tend to get drunker quicker.
  • Prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter ones, can negatively interact with alcohol.
  • Would it surprise you to know that champagne, beer, and other sparkling drinks can raise your BAC more than flat drinks like wine or neat vodka?
  • Metabolic tolerance. Metabolism refers to how quickly a person’s body processes what they consume, including alcohol. It varies from individual to individual, and yes-genetics can influence it.

Alcohol Intolerance

Some people inherit a condition called alcohol intolerance. They have an enzyme that prevents their bodies from metabolizing alcohol as efficiently as most people do. This is not the same as an alcohol allergy, although the symptoms can be similar.

True alcohol intolerance isn’t just ‘being a lightweight.” It’s actually an inherited disorder. That’s likely what your friend Alex is referring to when he-wisely!-summons that Uber to get home safely.

Can Genetic Intolerance Help a DUI Case?

As we’ve seen, there are so many factors involved in determining blood alcohol content that it’s virtually impossible to predict what defense can best serve someone charged with an OWI. That’s why you should contact Razumich & Associates. We’ll tailor an approach that will be right for you and your case. Call us today: 317-983-5333.

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