For a variety of physiological factors, a woman will feel the effects of alcohol differently than a man does, even one of equal size. In addition, there is mounting evidence that women are more susceptible than men to alcohol’s harmful effects. Below we’ll examine why men and women differ in their ability to process alcohol.
Ability to dilute alcohol
A woman has less body water (52% for the typical woman versus 61% for the typical man). Therefore, a man has a greater ability than a woman to dilute alcohol, even if the two individuals are the same size and weight.
Ability to metabolize alcohol
A woman also has less dehydrogenase, the liver enzyme responsible for breaking down alcohol. Therefore, a woman’s body breaks down alcohol less rapidly than a man’s.
Due to premenstrual hormonal changes, intoxication tends to develop faster in the days prior to her period. Estrogen-containing medication, such as birth control pills, will decrease the rate that alcohol can be eliminated from the body.
Women are more vulnerable to long-term damage from alcohol
Heavy-drinking women are at higher risk for pancreatic damage, high blood pressure, and liver disease than heavy-drinking men. Alcoholic women are more likely to die due to cirrhosis of the liver than are alcoholic men.
What makes matters worse is that current chemical and field sobriety tests were not designed for women. Breath-testing machines have not been engineered to test the blood alcohol level of a woman. Breathalyzers were designed for the lung capacity of the typical man, which is much larger than a woman’s. For this reason, the breathalyzer reads a woman’s blood alcohol at a higher level than is truly accurate. More significantly, police officers usually are not trained to accurately assess women for DUI. Since women process and react to alcohol differently, it is much more difficult for an officer, even an experienced one, to properly judge a woman’s intoxication level.
If you have been charged with a DUI, you need an experienced attorney. The Law Offices of Garrett T. Ogata provides first-class DUI and criminal lawyers in the Las Vegas area. Call for a free consultation.