Basics of Alcohol Metabolization
The concentration of alcohol in an individual's body depends on
the amount of water contained in
the body. The more water present in the body, the more diluted the alcohol will become as it is
absorbed into the system. Studies have suggested that bodily water content varies from individual
to individual. For alcohol to produce its effect, it must reach the brain. To accomplish this it first
passes into the blood stream after absorption through the walls of the stomach and small intestines.
This is the biochemical process of "diffusion" and the process will continue as long as the concentration
of alcohol in the stomach and intestines is higher than that in the blood.
Once absorbed through the stomach and intestine walls, the alcohol passes into the portl vein that
carries it to the liver, then to the the right side of the heart, and then to the lungs. From the lungs
(where the exhaled alveolar air is measured by breath test machines), the alcohol is carried in
arterial blood to the left side of the heart and from there into the body's general circulatory system,
by which means it eventually reaches the brain.
Blood-alcohol analysis, then , is simply the attempt to measure the amount by weight of alcohol
within the subject's blood at any given time. This amount, expressed as a percentage of the
blood in which it is found, is then compared to a scale of percentages established by law for
determining the presumptive levels of intoxication
Types of DUI Blood Tests
There are three methods commonly used in the analysis of blood
samples for blood-alcohol
concentration: The three methods are:
- Gas Chromatography
- Enzymatic Reaction
The most common of these is Gas Chromatography.
Attacking Blood Tests
There are a wide range of possible errors in blood testing.
Generally speaking, the source of these
errors have to do with the collection, storage and transportation of the blood sample. Of these
collection errors are generally the most fruitful for DUI defendants.
Sources of Error in Blood Drawing Equipment
- Insufficient preservative or excess preservative;
- Insufficient or excess anticoagulant;
- Solution in blood of anti-oxidants in rubber stoppers used in blood tubes;
- Dirty or out of date evacuated containers called "Vacutainers;"
- Dirty or plugged blood-drawing syringe;
- Use of a swab containing alcohol;
- Contamination of sample by non-sterile equipment
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