Factors impacting intoxication levels

A study published in the December 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that those who use diet soda or other no-calorie beverages as mixers for alcohol may become intoxicated more rapidly than those who use soda with sugar in it. Researchers believe that the sugar in soda may act like food and delay the time that it takes for alcohol to reach a person's small intestine, where the body absorbs alcohol. Subjects in the study who drank alcohol with diet soda mixers had delayed reaction times and higher alcohol concentrations in breath tests than those who used regular soda as mixers.

Researchers caution that the study's findings need to be supported with further research, but the study illustrates how a variety of factors can influence how rapidly a person becomes intoxicated when drinking alcohol. Maryland drivers should be aware of how alcohol can affect people in different ways and the penalties they face for drinking and driving.

Influences on blood alcohol content

Alcohol consumption affects each person differently. Two people can consume the same amount of alcohol and have different responses, given a variety of factors. Some of the things that impact a person's intoxication level include:

  • Food: The presence of food in the stomach slows the rate at which alcohol enters the small intestine where the body absorbs alcohol, so a person who had eaten a meal will feel the effects of alcohol more slowly than a person drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Age: Those who are younger tend to process alcohol more quickly than older people because they have more blood in their bodies and their livers can break alcohol down more rapidly.
  • Gender: Women generally have more body fat - and therefore less water in their bodies to dilute alcohol - than men do, so they feel the effects of alcohol more. In addition, women have less of the enzyme that the body needs to break down alcohol than men.
  • Body composition: A person with more muscle than body fat has more water in his or her system to dilute alcohol and mitigate its effects on the body.
  • Rate: Both the amount of alcohol a person drinks and the rate at which he or she consumes it can impact how a person reacts. Drinking a great deal of alcohol very quickly, so-called "binge drinking" can make a person feel the effects more than a person who consumes drinks more slowly.
  • Tolerance: A person who drinks frequently will fail to feel the intoxicating effects of alcohol as much as person who does not drink regularly and may cause a person to underestimate his or her BAC.
  • Stress: A person who is under a great deal of stress or fatigued may feel the effects of alcohol more than others.
  • Medication: Certain medications increase the effects of alcohol.

Drinking and driving penalties in Maryland

Drinking and driving is a very serious offense in Maryland. A first driving under the influence offense, where a driver's BAC is .08 or higher, results in 8 points instantly charged on a person's driving record and potential suspension of a driver's license for 60 days. Drivers also face up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000 if convicted. Drivers with BACs between .04 and .07 may face driving while intoxicated charges, which can result in 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.

Those who are facing DWI or DUI charges in Maryland should seek the assistance of a seasoned defense attorney who will fight to protect their rights.