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Oregon drivers caught off guard by next day DUI arrests

Due to the way alcohol is metabolized in the body, people may have high BAC levels well after they have stopped drinking, which could lead to next day DUIs.

During the holiday season especially, people in Portland, and throughout Oregon, commonly partake in libations with family and friends. Many do so responsibly, ensuring they have a designated driver or calling a cab to take them home. However, the Annual Oregon Uniform Crime Report shows that there were 8,759 DUII arrests across the state in 2014 alone. For some, their arrests ma y have caught them off guard because they were pulled over the day after drinking.

What impacts BAC levels?

As most people are aware, the legal blood alcohol content, or BAC, level for drivers in Oregon is .08 percent. There are numerous factors, which impact the percentage of alcohol in people's blood after they have consumed alcoholic beverages. According to the AAA's DUI Justice Link, this includes the following:

• The size of the drink

• The strength of the drink

• How long a person has been drinking

Additionally, people's genders may affect their BAC levels. Women typically produce less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the body. As such, the effects of alcohol tend to be stronger and last longer for women than men. Body weight also impacts people's BAC levels. The more a person weighs, the more body fluids they have. Thus, there are more fluids for the alcohol to mix with, which causes them to have a lower percentage of alcohol in their systems.

How does the body metabolize alcohol?

When consumed, the small intestine and the stomach absorb alcohol. Then, enzymes in the liver break it down. Brown University points out that the liver is generally able to process one standard drink per hour. In general, 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor count as one standard drink.

Should people consume more than one drink per hour, their systems may become saturated. As such, the alcohol will store in the body tissues and blood until it is metabolized. Consequently, people may have high BAC levels for several hours.

How can drivers sober up?

Many believe that getting fresh air, sleeping, eating, drinking coffee, exercising or any other number of things may help them sober up. However, this is not the case. Rather, time is the only thing that eliminates alcohol from the body, according to the AAA's DUI Justice Link.

For example, a man goes out with friends and has about two drinks per hour between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Due to how the body metabolizes alcohol, he may still have a BAC level of .08 percent when he is on his way to work at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. At 9:30 a.m., he may still be considered legally impaired, with a BAC of .05 percent. Thus, even motorists who do everything right when they are out drinking may still be charged with drunk driving the day after drinking.

Securing legal representation

Whether pulled over the day they have consumed alcohol, or the next morning, drunk driving arrests may have serious implications for people throughout Oregon. As such, those who have been charged with DUI may find it of benefit to obtain legal counsel. Working with an attorney may help them to understand their options, and build a strong criminal defense.