It is important to understand that you shouldn't drink on an empty stomach. Not only does it take fewer drinks to become intoxicated, but it also means more alcohol enters your bloodstream, resulting in a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
BAC is the amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream, typically conveyed in the form of a percentage. The more alcohol in someone's bloodstream, the higher the percentage.
Eating prior to or throughout the course of consuming alcoholic beverages actually slows the absorption rate of alcohol entering your body. Thus, less alcohol enters the bloodstreams when the absorption rate decreases.
According to several studies, about 20 percent of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and 80 percent through the small intestine when it enters the bloodstream. Those who don't eat before or during drinking have a BAC three times higher than someone who eats food—especially type that is high in protein—prior to drinking.
In addition to eating, the following are other factors that have an impact on someone's BAC levels:
- Age – The older you are, the more pronounced the intoxicating effects of alcohol will be.
- Weight – An increase in weight enables individuals to consume more alcohol without a rise in BAC levels.
- Gender – Women obtain a higher BAC if they consume at a similar rate than men.
- The rate of consumption – The faster you drink, the faster your BAC will increase.
- Stress – Stress can actually lower your absorption rate, thus lowering your BAC.
Remember, the legal limit in California is .08 percent. If you have a commercial driver's license (CDL), the legal limit is .04 percent. However, a person could be convicted of DUI even if his/her BAC is under the legal limit, especially if he/she was under the influence of drugs.