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Alcohol & Alcohol Testing for DUI’s. By K.G. Wilson Virginia Tech Police Department. What is Forensic Toxicology ?. Toxicology Science of poisons, embracing the physical and chemical study of all the known poisonous substances, as well as the methods of testing... Toxicologists

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alcohol alcohol testing for dui s

Alcohol&Alcohol Testing for DUI’s


K.G. Wilson

Virginia Tech Police


what is forensic toxicology
What is Forensic Toxicology?


Science of poisons, embracing the physical and chemical study of all the known poisonous substances, as well as the methods of testing...


Detect and identify any drugs or poisons present in a person's body fluids, tissues, and organs. This type of investigation is conducted not only on the victim but, when possible, also on the suspected perpetrator of the crime.

types of toxicologist
Types of Toxicologist

Descriptive Toxicologist

Performs toxicity test to evaluate the risk that exposure poses to humans

Mechanistic Toxicologist

Attempts to determine how substances exert deleterious effects on living organisms

Regulatory Toxicologist

Judges whether or not a substance has low enough risk to justify making it available to the public

types of alcohol
Types of Alcohol
  • Methanol
  • Ethanol
  • Isopropanol
  • Butanol
  • Poisonous alcohol: a colorless, volatile, poisonous, water-soluble liquid that is used as a solvent, a fuel, and in antifreeze for motor vehicles.
  • Formula: CH3OH
  • Toxicity & Metabolites ~ 75ml
  • Also called wood alcohol or wood spirit
  • Liquid in alcoholic beverages: a colorless liquid with a pleasant smell that is produced naturally from fermentation by yeasts and other microorganisms. It is used in alcoholic beverages, as a solvent, and in the manufacture of other chemicals.
  • Formula: C2H5OH
  • Toxicity & Metabolites ~ 400-500ml
  • Also called – grain alcohol
  • Colorless flammable alcohol used in antifreeze: a colorless flammable alcohol used in antifreeze and rubbing alcohol and as a solvent. Also used in denaturant and antiseptic
  • Formula – C3H7OH
  • Toxicity & Metabolites ~250ml
  • Toxic liquid: a colorless toxic liquid with four different molecular structures (isomers). It is used as a solvent in such items as paint remover, and also in the manufacture of other organic substances.
  • Formula: C4H9OH
  • Toxicity & Metabolites ~100ml
  • Also called – butyl alcohol
three major types of alcoholic beverages
Three Major Types of Alcoholic Beverages
  • Fermented
  • Distilled
  • Fortified
  • Beer and wine are the most commonly fermented beverages. These beverages and produced by allowing the fermentation process to take place, filtering the beverage, and then packaging it for use.
  • In the U.S., beer typically has an alcohol content of approximately 4%, where wine usually has an alcohol content of 10-12.5%. If conditions are optimal, then the maximum alcohol content attained by fermentation is approximately 15%(Home made wines)
distilled beverages
Distilled Beverages
  • All Liquors (Whisky, rum, vodka, ect.) are distilled beverages produced by fermentation their respective raw materials (grains, molasses, potatoes, beets, ect.).
  • The resultant mixture is distilled, a process where the mash, wine, or other alcohol-containing mixture is heated.
  • When a solution of alcohol and water is heated, the alcohol will boil first, since it boils at 78.3c
  • As the alcohol boils, the vapors are collected and condensed.
  • Alcohol is then used to produced a distilled beverage, which contains higher alcohol content than do fermented beverages.
  • Wines are the most common beverages of this type.
  • Fortified wines typically contain 18-20% alcohol and can be even higher in alcohol content, which is achieved by either adding alcohol from another source or by distillation.
  • The wine is distilled to separate the alcohol from the fruit juice.
  • Portion of the fruit juice is removed for use in other food products, and the distilled alcohol is mixed with the remaining fruit juice to produce a fortified wine.
beverage type approximate alcohol content


















Beverage TypeApproximate% Alcohol Content

In the United States, the proof of an alcoholic beverage is twice the percentage of alcohol by volume. Meaning an 86 proof bottle of whiskey contains 43% alcohol by volume.

routes of absorption
Routes of Absorption
  • Inhalation
  • Injection
  • Insertion
  • Skin Contact
  • Absorption from Gastrointestinal Tract
  • 62 % effective
  • Ethyl alcohol is readily absorbed by lung tissue
  • Any person with a concentration of alcohol high enough to produce a significant rise in blood levels would irritate the tissue lining the esophagus.
  • Very Effective.
  • Very easy to overdose with this method.
  • Alcohol is detectable in the blood almost immediately after injection into a muscle, or instantaneously when administered intravenously.
  • Enema
  • Alcohol is readily absorbed by the large intestine (colon)
skin contact
Skin Contact
  • Experiments have shown that no detectable blood levels have been obtained from alcohol rubs when the subject could not inhale the alcohol.
  • Meaning no BAC is absorbed this way.
absorption from gastrointestinal tract
Absorption from Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Alcohol is absorbed by various parts of the gastrointestinal tract by:
          • Mouth – mouth lining
          • Stomach – 25%
          • Small Intestine - 75%
rate of absorption
Rate of Absorption
  • Vary from person to person
  • Individual’s body
  • Alcohol begins to pass into the bloodstream within one to two minutes after it is consumed.
  • Nearly all of the ingested alcohol is absorbed within 45 mins. During normal social drinking conditions, alcohol is often absorbed in less than 30 mins.
factors that affect the rate of absorption
Factors that affect the Rate of Absorption
  • Absorption through the stomach wall is slow and represents only a portion of total alcohol intake.
  • Absorption through the small intestine is rapid.
  • Dilution of the alcoholic beverage and the presence of food in the stomach affect the rate of absorption.
what happens when you drink
What Happens when you Drink

Alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and liver failure.

When alcohol is present in the liver (1) it preempts the breakdown of fat

which accumulate within the liver cells. As fatty cells enlarge they can rupture (2) or grow into cysts(3) that replace normal cells. After years of heavy drinking, fibrous scar tissue(4) or cirrhosis, impedes the normal flow of arterial and venous blood through the organ



Even a healthy brain (A) loses cells, but

long term heavy drinking can speed degeneration.

The alcoholic brain (B) often shows signs of atrophy which is wasting away of body tissue, an organ. the failure of an organ or part to grow or develop, as because of insufficient nutrition.


Heavy drinking can cause a health liver (C)

to become fatty and enlarged (D) an early

and reversible stage of liver disease. Cirrhosis

(E) or scarring can lead to liver failure and death

stages of acute alcoholic influence intoxication
Stages of Acute AlcoholicInfluence/Intoxication
  • Sobriety
  • Euphoria
  • Excitement
  • Confusion
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Death
  • No apparent influence
  • Behavior nearly normal by ordinary observation
  • Slight changes detectable by special tests
  • Mild euphoria, sociability, talkativeness
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Decrease of attention, judgment and control
  • Loss of efficiency in finer performance tests
  • BAC .03 - .05
  • Person also has feeling of warmth,& skin is flushed
  • Emotional instability, decreased inhibitions
  • Loss of critical judgment
  • Impairment of memory, comprehension
  • Decreased sensory response, increased reaction time
  • Some muscular incoordination and slowing of reflexes
  • BAC .08-.10
  • Disorientation, mental confusion, dizziness
  • Exaggerated emotional states (fear, anger, grief)
  • Disturbance of sensation and of perception of color, form motion dimensions
  • Decreased pain sense
  • Impaired balance, muscular incoordinations, staggering gait, slurred speech, double vision
  • BAC .10-.15
  • Apathy, general inertia, approaching paralysis
  • Marked decreased response to stimuli
  • Marked muscular incoordination, inability to stand or walk
  • Vomiting, incontinence of urine and feces
  • Impaired consciousness, sleep or stupor
  • Vomiting
  • BAC .25 or greater
  • Complete unconsciousness, coma anesthesia
  • Depressed or abolished reflexes
  • Subnormal temperature (low)
  • Incontinence of urine and feces
  • Impairment of circulation and respiration
  • Possible death
  • BAC .35 or greater
  • Death from respiratory paralysis
  • BAC .50 or greater
intoxilyzer model 5000
Intoxilyzer Model 5000

The breathalyzer indirectly determines the quantity of alcohol consumed by measuring the absorption of light by potassium dichromate before and after its reaction to alcohol

field sobriety testing
Field Sobriety Testing
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  • Walk and Turn
  • One-leg Stand
  • ABC
  • Finger Dexterity Test
  • Counting
  • Finger to Nose

Driving Under the Influence

    • 946,694 arrest
    • Male = 789,198 Female = 157,496
  • Liquor Law violation
    • 408,203
    • Male = 311,971 Female = 96,232
  • Drunkenness
    • 423,561
    • Male =365,393 Female = 58,168
2001 virginia alcohol related offenses
2001 Virginia Alcohol Related Offenses
  • Driving under the Influence


  • Liquor Laws


  • Drunkenness


dui facts
DUI Facts
  • Traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes rose 4% from 17,380 (2000) to 17,448 (2001).
  • 17,448 represents (41% of the total traffic fatalities for the year)
  • Of this 17,448 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2001 represents an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 30 minutes.
  • In 2001, 35% of all traffic fatalities occurred in crashes in which at least one driver or non occupant had a BAC of 0.08 or greater.
  • More than 1/3 of all pedestrians 16yrs or older killed in traffic crashes were intoxicated.
dui facts cont
DUI Facts cont’
  • The highest intoxication rate in fatal crashes in 2001 were recorded for drivers 21-24 years old (33%), this was followed by ages 25-34 (28%) and 35-44 (25%)
  • NHTSA estimates that minimum drinking age laws have saved 20,970 lives since 1975.
virginia 2001 traffic fatalities
Virginia 2001 Traffic Fatalities
  • Total Fatalities - 935
  • BAC (.00) - No Alcohol

595 – 64%

  • BAC (0.01-0.07) - Low Alcohol

54 – 6%

  • BAC > 0.08 – High Alcohol

287 – 31%

  • BAC > 0.01 – Any Alcohol

340 – 36%

virginia dui laws
Virginia DUI Laws
  • 18.2-266 – Driving motor vehicle, engine, ect., while intoxicated, ect.
  • 18.2-266.1 – Persons under age twenty-one driving after illegally consuming alcohol; penalty
  • 18.2-267 – Preliminary analysis of breath to determine alcoholic content of blood
  • 18.2-268.1 – Chemical testing to determine alcohol or drug content of blood; definitions
  • 18.2-268.2 – Implied consent to post-arrest chemical test to determine drug or alcohol content of blood
  • 18.2-268.3 – Refusal of test; procedures
  • 18.2-268.4 – Appeal and trial; sanctions for refusal
laws cont
Laws cont’
  • 18.2-268.5 – Qualifications and liability of persons authorized to take blood sample; procedure for taking sample
  • 18.2-268.6 – Transmission of blood samples
  • 18.2-268.7 – Transmission of blood test results; use as evidence
  • 18.2-268.8 – Fees
  • 18.2-268.9 – Assurance of breath-test validity; use of test results as evidence.
  • 18.2-268.10 – Evidence of violation of 18.2-266 or of 18.2-266.1
laws cont1
Laws cont’
  • 18.2-268.11 – Substantial compliance
  • 18.2-268.12 – Ordinances
  • 18.2-269 – Presumptions for alcoholic content of blood
  • 18.2-270 – Penalty for driving while intoxicated
  • 18.2-270.1 – Ignition interlock systems; penalty
  • 18.2-270.2 – Ignition interlock systems; certification by commission on VASAP; regulations; sale or lease; monitoring use; reports.
  • 18.2-271 – Forfeiture of driver’s license for driving while intoxicated
laws cont2
Laws cont’
  • 18.2-271.1 – Probation, education and rehabilitation of person charged or convicted; person convicted under law of another state.
  • 18.2-271.2 – Commission of VASAP
  • 18.2-271.3 – (repealed)
  • 18.2-272 – Driving after forfeiture of license
  • 18.2-273 – Report of conviction to Department of Motor Vehicles
other va alcohol laws
Other Va. Alcohol Laws
  • 4.1-100 – Intoxicated
  • 29.1-738.4 – Intoxicated or reckless operation
  • 4.1-304 – Intoxicated persons
  • 18.2-388 – Public Intoxication