It’s something that would likely shock most people but obesity can absolutely impact the likelihood that a person is arrested for drunk driving. There have been reports of cases all across the country where people were wrongly arrested after failing field sobriety tests due to being overweight. Some obese people have problems balancing or standing that can come across as impairment to untrained officers.

Beyond these cases dealing with field sobriety tests, there are also cases where it has been shown that a person’s obesity can impact tests aimed at determining a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Why does weight matter?

So how does weight impact a test for BAC? The issue is a simple matter of biology and has to do with alcohol being attracted to water. Science reveals that the chemical composition of alcohol means that it will move into spaces of the body where water is located. It’s also true that fat cells have very little water content and thus tend to absorb very small amounts of alcohol.

However, muscle cells have high water content and thus tend to absorb disproportionately large amounts of alcohol. Because of this difference in absorption levels, it is true that the fatter a person is the more alcohol will be unabsorbed in his or her bloodstream. On the other hand, the more muscular a person is the more alcohol will be absorbed by their body and the less that will remain in their bloodstream, leading to lower BACs. Experts say that it is clear that a person with a higher body fat percentage will also have higher BAC than someone with more lean muscle.  

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