Males vs Female Metabolism of Alcohol in the Los Angeles DUI Case
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The purpose of the study was to determine whether there was an interaction between O.C.S. and the metabolism of ethanol. The study compared females taking O.C.S. with males and with females not taking O.C.S. In addition, the study took into account the four phases of a woman's menstrual cycle for females taking O.C.S. and those not taking O.C.S.
The study found that O.C.S. stimulate the elimination of ethanol from the human bloodstream. The study also concludes that the position of the women in their menstrual cycle was not the determining factor in the difference in the ethanol elimination rate. More specifically, the study presented the following conclusions: No significant difference was seen in the rate of decline of BAG in women not taking O.C.S. compared to men, and a highly significant increase in the rate of decline was noted in women who were taking O.C.S.
Thus, if the expert witness in a Los Angeles DUI case attempts to estimate the alcohol concentration of the female at the time of driving, use of a standard elimination rate (e.g., 15 mg percent per hour) will result in a faulty extrapolation if the woman was taking oral contraceptive steroids.
Yet another example of sex difference in blood-alcohol analysis was uncovered in a study by Jeavons and Zeiner, Effects of Elevated Female Sex Steroids on Ethanol and Acetaldehyde Metabolism in Humans, 8(4) Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 352 (1984). This article revealed that women who were taking oral contraceptives and women who were pregnant had elevated acetaldehyde levels. Apparently, the ability to metabolize acetaldehyde decreases as the level of sex steroids increases. Put another way, women with a greater amount of sex steroids in their systems will also have a greater amount of acetaldehyde. Such women who take breath tests will also have inaccurately high blood-alcohol readings in DUI cases.
In an article entitled Determination of Liquid/Air Partition Coefficients for Dilute Solutions of Ethanol in Water, Whole Blood, and Plasma, published in journal of Analytical Toxicology 193-197 (July/August 1983), Dr. A. W. Jones discusses an experiment comparing the blood/air ratio of men and women, concluding that the sexes have different ratios. Breath testing devices used in DUI investigations are calibrated based on an assumed blood/breath ratio of 2100 to 1 - an average for men. The Swedish experiments, however, would seem to indicate that a woman with a given blood-alcohol reading on a breath testing device may actually have a lower level than would a man with the same reading.
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