drink driving

Alcohol absorption, distribution and elimination

ABSORPTION

Food intake slows the absorption of alcohol and decreases the maximum BAC but it does not substantially prolong the peak BAC. In tests, regardless of stomach condition, the average time to reach maximum BAC was 41 minutes. In other tests, under realistic social conditions, the average time to maximum BAC was 12 minutes. 

Carbonated drinks tend to cause a more rapid absorption of alcohol and increase the initial BAC.

Gastric bypass surgery can substantially increase the rate of alcohol absorption.

Alcohol is not significantly absorbed by inhalation through the lungs or diffusion through the skin. Only negligible amounts of alcohol are absorbed after excessive use of alcohol based hand sanitiser.

The greater the concentration of alcohol, the more rapidly absorption will take place with a higher and earlier maximum BAC.

DISTRIBUTION

The distribution of alcohol throughout the body is:

Stomach/small intestine > Liver > Right side of heart > Lungs > Left side of heart > Body tissue (inc. brain)  > Right side of heart

ELIMINATION

The rate of alcohol elimination can be increased by the chronic use of alcohol.

Food intake not only slows the absorption of alcohol but increases the elimination rate.

A high protein diet increases the rate of elimination.

Women generally have a higher rate of alcohol elimination than do men.

For healthy individuals who drink occasionally, it is generally accepted that the average elimination rate from blood is 15 ug per hour.

Source: Wigmore on Alcohol, Courtroom Alcohol Toxicology for the Medicolegal Professional. 2011.

Unlimited fines

These regulations , in force 12th March 2015, make provision in relation to fines and maximum fines which may be imposed on summary conviction, for the purpose of implementing section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. Section 85(1) of the Act, which is commenced alongside these Regulations, provides that a relevant offence which is, on the commencement day, punishable on summary conviction by a fine or maximum fine of £5,000 or more (however expressed) becomes punishable on summary conviction by a fine of any amount. 

Comment

All offences with a "level 5" maximum fine now carry an unlimited fine. This applies to, amongst others, the following offences:

  • Careless driving
  • Drink driving / fail to provide
  • Drug driving / fail to provide
  • Dangerous driving
  • Defective brakes / tyres
  • Driving whilst disqualified
  • Fail to stop / report
  • No insurance
  • Overloading
  • Tachograph not used / not working