Arrest and conviction in a drunk driving case depends largely upon the breathalyzer or blood alcohol tests conducted on the suspect. If the test results are found to be .08% or higher, a conviction follows. No distinction is made, of course, as to whether that suspect in the DUI case is a man or a woman.
But what if it takes less alcohol for women to reach .08% blood alcohol than it does for men?
Researchers at the University School of Medicine in Trieste, Italy, found that the stomach lining contains an enzyme called gastric alcohol dehydrogenase that breaks down alcohol, and that women have less than men. To determine the relative effects of the enzyme, they gave alcohol both orally and intravenously to groups of alcoholic and non-alcoholic men and women. They found that women reached the same levels of blood alcohol as men after drinking only half as much; with weight differences taken into account, they found that women reached BAC levels illegal in a DUI case after drinking 20 to 30 percent less alcohol than men.
The scientists’ conclusion: legislatures may need to consider sex differences in DUI laws when defining safe levels of drinking for driving motor vehicles. Frezza and Lieber, “High Blood Alcohol Levels in Women: The Role of Decreased Gastric Alcohol Dehydrogenase Activity and First-Pass Metabolism”, 322(2) New England Journal of Medicine 95 (1990).
Lawrence Taylor is the co-author of the leading textbook in the field, Drunk Driving Defense, is certified as a Senior Specialist in DUI Defense., and is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense. If you need to consult with a Los Angeles DUI attorney, Orange County DUI attorney or Riverside DUI attorney, contact The Law Offices of Taylor & Taylor at 1(844)DUI-XPRT. With offices in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, the firm has limited its practice to DUI defense exclusively for 35 years and is consistently top-rated in surveys of Southern California lawyers and consumers.