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Do People Metabolize Alcohol Differently?


Interviewer: But there’s got to be physiological differences though. People that come in and say, “I’ve got a really high tolerance. I can drink 20 beers and I’m fine” and people that say, “One beer and I’m on my ear.” When does that come into play?

Per Se Law and Blood Alcohol Levels of 0.08

Aaron: That comes into play not necessarily for the under the, per se, law. The law pertains to the 0.08 level, which is the count under vehicle code section 23152B of the California Vehicle code. This code says that if you’re at or over a 0.08 blood alcohol level, it’s a per se law, which stipulates, “you can be convicted, if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Here, when we’re talking about tolerance, we’re talking more about the other count that determines if people are charged with in a DUI case, which is California Vehicle Code section 23152A. This code basically says that you are not driving with the care and caution of a sober person. It’s impaired driving and that can be for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or their combined influence.

You can be charged with impairment in many different situations. With someone who can really handle his or her drinks, it may be more difficult for the prosecution to prove impairment. This is because this person could be at a 0.16 or a 0.20 and be driving perfectly fine, and do very well on field sobriety tests. But the machine’s is showing that they’re at a high level. With good field sobriety tests and good driving, it’s tough to show impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.

Now, if you have someone who, as you said is a “lightweight.” Someone who has a drink or two and they feel the effects, well they are going to have more visible impairment on the driving and the field sobriety tests, and that can be used against them in the 23152A count, which is the impaired driving count.

Interviewer: Even if I think I’ve got the greatest tolerance in the world, the amount of alcohol in my blood will still be the same and it doesn’t matter, right?

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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