Understanding how alcohol gets on your breath

Griffin Law, PLLC
Feb 18, 2020

When facing a charge of driving while intoxicated in Statesville, you may think that contesting the charges against you amounts to a moot point. After all, authorities have the results of a breath test indicating that you were indeed drunk, right? How can those be challenged? Such is the assumption that many have when they come to see us here at Griffin Law, PLLC. Like them, you may be surprised to learn that breath test results are often viewed as being unreliable (so much so that they may even be deemed inadmissible in a case). Understanding why requires that you be familiar with the process of how alcohol gets into your breath.

According to the Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership, the ethanol alcohol that you ingest (which is the particular form of alcohol used in beverages) is able to permeate through the lining of the organs of your gastrointestinal tract through a process known as passive diffusion. Once this happens, the dissolved ethanol molecules enter the blood in your veins and are carried to your heart, where they are then pumped into the lungs via the right ventricle. Blood in your lungs becomes oxygenated when it comes into contact with the oxygen in the lungs. During this process, a small portion of the ethanol in the blood becomes vaporized into a gas. That gas is then expelled from your body as your breath.

While only trace amounts of ethanol are expelled with each breath, this process shows that measuring the alcohol content of your blood via your breath is like trying o hit a moving target. For this reason, breath testing devices rely on basic assumptions when generating readings, which thus introduces the potential for error.

You can learn more about disputing DWI charges by continuing to explore our site.

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