Why The Breathalyzer And BAC Tests Are Biased Against Women

Jul 25

Why The Breathalyzer And BAC Tests Are Biased Against Women

Washington Post, free version

It cannot be denied that the breathalyzer and BAC tests are a bit biased against women. Let us say for example that a man and a woman drank the same amount of alcohol and both got pulled over for DUI. Tests will be given, of course, to prove and measure their intoxication. The problem is that there will be marked differences between their results. The man will show lower results, while the woman will show higher ones, although they consumed the same amount of alcoholic beverage. This is because women are built differently than men, so a woman’s body will process alcohol differently. But why is this so? Why are the tests unfair for women?

What Causes the Discrepancies?

There are five reasons why these discrepancies happen. For one, the female body contains a lower amount of water content than a male body does. The male body has about 70% water content, while the female body has only about 55%. This means that the male body has better capability to process alcohol as well as eliminate it quickly from the body. This is why discrepancies occur when the breathalyzer and BAC test is taken.

Two, because the female body is smaller than the male body, it then has smaller lungs than men and a lower lung capacity. This means that when a man and a woman who have consumed the same amount of alcohol blow into a breathalyzer device, the device will show some discrepancy. The woman’s result will almost always show insufficient amount because of her lower lung capacity, giving the arresting police officer a reason to mark it as the woman’s refusal to give him a proper breath sample in her record.

Three, the discrepancy also has something to do with the difference in their body temperature. Do not forget that the breathalyzer assumes a breath temperature of 34 degrees Celsius when it is measuring the alcohol level. With a woman’s body having a higher temperature, especially when she is on her menstrual period, the result will show a higher reading by about 7%.

Four, metabolism also plays a role in the test results. Men do have a higher metabolism than women, so they are able to eliminate alcohol faster than women do. Also, the female body absorbs alcohol faster than men do, so her BAC result will surely be higher.

Five, the medications a woman is taking also causes discrepancy. Say for example that she is taking birth control pills. BCPs increase the body’s temperature, thus, the discrepancy in the breathalyzer and BAC results when they are taken.

What Can Be Done?

There really is nothing that could be done if you are a female and have been arrested for DUI. The device cannot distinguish between a male and a female subject, after all, so it will always show a higher result in women because of the huge differences in male and female bodies. You can argue all you want, that the discrepancies are unfair and biased, but the arresting police officer will always record what the devices show. If you want a proper defense, then get a lawyer who is well-versed in DUI charges.

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