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Alcohol primer: from A to DUI

While no one knows when alcohol was invented or discovered, we do know it has been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. Though it is woven into our past and present, many of us aren't familiar with what exactly alcohol is, why it affects us and how much of it is safe to consume.

Strangely enough, ethyl alcohol (the intoxicating form of alcohol in liquor, beer and wine) is also known as ethanol, an ingredient found in many blends of gasoline. We're concerned in our blog with the alcohol in the person driving the car, however, rather than the alcohol in the vehicle's system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says ethyl alcohol is a depressant that acts on the central nervous system after being absorbed into the bloodstream from your stomach and small intestine. It's metabolized in your liver by enzymes, but the liver is only able to handle about one ounce of alcohol per hour, according to Brown University.

If you consume more than an ounce per hour, the amount that can't be metabolized immediately circulates through the bloodstream.

So the effect of this age-old intoxicant is directly related to the amount you drink.

Not only the amount consumed determines the level of intoxication a person experiences, but also their age, weight, gender, ethnicity/race, fitness level and how quickly they drink the alcohol.

In Colorado, the legal threshold is 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content. At that level and above, a police officer will arrest a person for driving under the influence of alcohol. After an arrest, the amount of alcohol consumed, the rate at which it was consumed and a host of other factors assessed and presented to a court by an experienced criminal defense attorney can affect the outcome of a DUI case. 

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