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Alcohol is not the only contributing factor when determining your blood/alcohol concentration. Other factors can come into play such as gender, weight, race, and hematocrit. Why should you care about hematocrit levels? Two people who drink the exact same amount of alcohol in the same amount of time could each register different amounts of alcohol in their blood. This could mean the difference between suffering the consequences of a DUI or being acquitted. If you get stopped for a suspect DUI, you need to understand how the composition of your blood can affect the test.
Blood is made up of red and white blood cells and platelets. These are the solid particles that are suspended in plasma, which is the liquid portion of your blood. Everyone’s blood has different levels of solid particles vs the plasma. The hematocrit is a medical measurement of the solid particles, stated in a percentage form. For example, someone with 45% solid particles and 55% plasma has a hematocrit of .45.
How Hematocrit Affects Alcohol Concentration
Plasma also contains water. Alcohol is more soluble in water. People with a higher hematocrit will have a lower amount of plasma in their blood. This means that the alcohol will be more concentrated in the plasma. Going back to our original example, someone with a hematocrit of .45 will show a lower concentration of alcohol in their plasma than people with a hematocrit of .49. The higher the hematocrit, the more concentrated the alcohol will be in the plasma.
How Hematocrit Affects Breath Analysis Tests
Hematocrit also affects breath analysis tests as well. Without getting too detailed or technical, the air in our lungs absorbs alcohol from the blood in the lung tissue. The amount of alcohol in our lungs is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol in our blood. This is how breath analysis tests work. When you blow into the test, it records the amount of alcohol your lungs have absorbed from the blood.
The complication comes in because the liquid portion of the blood (plasma) has a greater effect on the air in the lungs than the solid portion (hematocrit). Again, people with a higher hematocrit will register a higher score on a standard breath analysis test. People with a higher hematocrit have a lower amount of plasma, and the alcohol is more concentrated. This higher concentration of alcohol is reflected in a higher breath analysis score. This means that breath analysis tests can falsely show a higher level of alcohol for people with a high hematocrit.
Everyone is different, and everyone has a different hematocrit. The range for men is between 42 to 52, with an average of 47. The range for women is between 37 and 47, with an average of 42. However, studies show that a person’s hematocrit can vary by as much as 15%.
How Can This Help if You Get Stopped For a DUI?
Your hematocrit levels can be used as a possible defense if you get charged with a DUI. A good Los Angeles DUI attorney can use your hematocrit level when defending you against an unfair charge of DUI. However, the discussion about hematocrit levels is complex and should be left to an experienced attorney.
The consequences of getting a DUI are very serious, and can affect your life for a long time. If you ever get arrested for DUI, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer who can present the best defense possible.