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Eating and Smoking

Effects of Eating & Smoking On DUI Breath Alcohol Tests

The delaying effects of food on alcohol absorption – and thus on any attempts to use retrograde extrapolation in guessing earlier blood alcohol levels in a drunk driving case – have been documented. In A. W. Jones, “Concentration-Time Profiles of Ethanol in Capillary Blood After Ingestion of Beer,” 31 Journal of the Forensic Science Society 429 (1991), groups of subjects were given both light and regular beer on an empty stomach during a normal lunch, and one to two hours after a meal.

The results of blood-alcohol testing showed lower peak blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) with light beer on an empty stomach than with regular beer; the same was true for beer consumed after a meal. Peak concentrations for the two types of beer taken during a meal were similar, but the regular beer produced a slower rate of elimination.

Peak BACs for both kinds of beer were lower with a full stomach, and those peaks were reached earlier. This confirmed earlier studies indicating that some of the ingested alcohol is trapped by food in the stomach, forming a so-called bound pool which is not absorbed immediately. The untrapped “free pool” of alcohol, on the other hand, is absorbed as if in an empty stomach, causing a peak BAC to be reached quickly. The bound pool of alcohol continues to be slowly absorbed, creating a slowly dropping level of blood-alcohol concentration.

See also Jones and Neri, “Evaluation of Blood-Ethanol Profiles After Consumption of Alcohol Together with a Large Meal”, 24(3) Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal 165 (1991), for a study with similar results. After extensive experimentation involving ingestion of alcohol by 16 DUI police officers, the researchers concluded that “[t]he results presented in this paper emphasize the need for caution when engaging in retrograde extrapolation.”

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With an average of 32 years of experience, a top A-V rating, and a listing in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, the firm continues to be widely recognized as California’s premier DUI defense attorney's and has twice been recognized in the American Bar Association Journal for its specialization and unique technical support staff of former law enforcement, blood-alcohol and DMV experts.

It is Recommended That the Following Findings

Be Incorporated Into a Pamphlet for Drivers:

  • Eat a meal in close proximity to the time of drinking.
  • Eat a full meal, if possible, with a variety of foods which are largely protein and/or carbohydrates.
  • When it is not possible to have a meal before drinking, take advantage of whatever food is available. Almost any food will be better than no food at all.
  • Avoid drinking when no food has been eaten for more than two hours.

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(562) 330-4173 today to learn more.

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