Drinking & Driving – Cases of high blood alcohol levels

Drinking & Driving – Cases of high blood alcohol levels
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In November 2007, a driver was found passed out in her car in Oregon in the United States. A blood test showed her blood alcohol level was 0.550%. She was charged with several offenses, including two counts of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, reckless endangerment of a person, criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license. Her bail was later set at USD 50,000, since she had several previous convictions for similar offenses.

In December 2007, a driver was arrested in Klamath County, Oregon, after she was found unconscious in her car which was stuck in a snow bank with its engine running. Police were forced to break a car window to remove her. After realizing she was in alcohol-induced coma, they rushed her to the hospital where a blood test showed her blood alcohol level was 0.720%. She reportedly was released from the hospital the next day. She was subsequently charged with drunk driving.

In July 2008, a driver was arrested after he ran into a highway message board on Interstate 95 in Providence, Rhode Island. A breath test showed his blood alcohol level was at 0.491% and he was raced to the hospital where he was sedated and placed in a detoxification unit. He was subsequently charged with driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He was later sentenced to one year probation, a $500 fine, 40 hours of community service and a one-year loss of his driver’s license. The police later stated that his blood alcohol level was the highest they had ever seen for someone who hadn’t died of alcohol poisoning. It was later estimated that the driver had consumed 10–14 drinks over the course of 1–2 hours, based on the standard levels of elimination which as documented previously can vary by up to 300%.

In December 2009, a South Dakota woman was found behind the wheel of a stolen car with a measured blood alcohol content of .708%, almost nine times the state’s limit of .08%, thus becoming the highest recorded level of alcohol toxicity for the state. After she was hospitalized, she was released on bond and subsequently found in another stolen automobile while under the influence.

Highest recorded blood alcohol level/content

In 1995, a man in Wrocław, Poland, had a car accident. At the hospital, his BAC was determined to be 1.48%. Concerned that their equipment was malfunctioning, doctors also performed five separate lab tests, all of which confirmed the man’s blood alcohol content. He died a few days later from wounds from the car accident. Police were baffled as to how an individual could attain such a high blood alcohol. Later, police discussions with his brother in-law revealed that he had “beer bonged” pure grain alcohol allegedly stolen from his place of work, a chemical plant.

In December 2004, a man was admitted to the hospital in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, after being struck by a car. After detecting a strong alcohol odor, doctors at a hospital conducted a breath test which displayed the man’s blood alcohol content at 0.914. The man was treated for serious injuries sustained in the crash and survived.

In February 2005, French gendarmes from Bourg-en-Bresse, France, conducted a breath test on a man who had lost control of his car. He had an alcohol content of 0.976. He was not injured in the accident but was charged with a €150 fine and his driving license was canceled.

There have been reported cases of blood alcohol content higher than 1.00. In March 2009, a 45-year-old man was admitted to the hospital in Skierniewice, Poland, after being struck by a car. The blood test showed blood alcohol content at 1.23. The man survived but did not remember either the accident or the circumstances of his alcohol consumption. One such case was reported by O’Neil, and others in 1984. They report on a 30-year-old man who survived a blood alcohol concentration of 1,500mg/100ml blood after vigorous medical intervention.

In 1982, a 24-year-old woman was admitted to the UCLA emergency room with a serum alcohol concentration of 1.5 (1510mg/dL). She was alert and oriented to person and place (reported in The Lancet, Dec 18, 1982, p. 1394). Serum Alcohol Concentration is not equal to nor calculated in the same way as Blood Alcohol Content. (By conversion using BAC=SAC/1.14, this would correspond to a BAC of 1.33.)

In South Africa, a man driving a Mercedes-Benz Vito van containing 15 sheep, allegedly stolen from nearby farms was arrested on December 22, 2010, near Queenstown in Eastern Cape. His blood had an alcohol content of 1.6g/100ml. Also in the vehicle were five boys and a woman who were also arrested.

In Poland, a homeless man was found sleeping half-naked on January 28, 2011, in Cieszyn. His blood had an alcohol level of 1.024%. Despite the temperature of −10°C and extremely high blood alcohol content the man survived.

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