Case Study / DUI
The Doctor and the Rising Blood Alcohol
A young ER doctor is watching the NBA playoffs with friends. They enjoy food and wine, and when the game ends the doctor finishes what’s left in his glass, quickly drinks another full glass, and gets in his car.
He travels about half a mile before a young officer stops him for speeding. She doesn’t write him a ticket for speeding (very common), but gives him a test called “nystagmus,” in which he’s supposed to follow her finger with his eyes—without moving his head. The doctor critiques the officer’s method, saying, “You’re moving your finger out of my field of vision.” The officer says, “Okay, smart, guy, out of the car.” After the field sobriety tests, the doctor refuses—which is his right—to take a “preliminary” test on the breathalyzer. The officer arrests him.
By the time our doctor is given the official breath test at the station, exactly one hour has passed. His Blood Alcohol Concentration, or “BAC,” is .10%, which is .02% over the limit. He also performs much worse on sobriety tests than he did an hour before. The arresting officer makes a snide remark when she takes his license away, and our doctor makes a comment that she interprets as a threat to her safety if she were ever to end up in his E.R.
To be guilty of DUI, your BAC has to be over the limit at the time you are driving, and it takes an hour for alcohol to be fully absorbed in your system. Since our doctor drank the last wine just before he was stopped, it was not fully absorbed. The judge gave him a warning for what he said to the officer, but he was found not guilty of a DUI.