Some people who get charged with driving while intoxicated are surprised that their blood alcohol levels are over the limit because they claim not to have felt the effects of impairment. Is it possible to be considered legally drunk yet still appear to be sober?
It certainly is, and here’s why. Just as there are other factors that can affect a person’s performance and actions when they are drinking alcohol, those who have high functional tolerance toward alcohol can be considered legally impaired before they ever feel the physical effects from the alcohol they consumed.
However, one’s blood alcohol content remains completely unaffected by the person’s functional tolerance. Therefore, people who don’t feel like they are drunk can still have enough alcohol in their bloodstream to land them in jail for DWI if they drink and drive. Furthermore, having a high alcohol tolerance can lead a person to make risky decisions, like choosing to drive after tossing back a few beers at the bar.
What other factors might affect one’s sobriety other than their BAC? Almost any other drug, whether prescribed or illegal, that a person is taking has the potential to create drug-alcohol interactions that can adversely affect the way the person reacts to the alcohol that’s consumed. Below is a partial list of medications and substances that can intensify alcohol’s effect on the body:
— Cold and flu medications
— Allergy pills
— Supplements and herbal remedies
— Medications for anxiety, diabetes and epilepsy
— Sleep aids
— Birth control
While none of the above will make a person’s BAC read higher than it is from the actual alcohol that was consumed, they are capable of interacting with it to enhance the effects of the alcohol and make a DWI much more likely.
A diligent criminal defense attorney may be able to get the Breathalyzer reading tossed out of evidence and blame the driver’s alleged impairment on other factors.
Source: University of Georgia, “Factors Affecting Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC),” accessed May 26, 2016