The Double Disadvantage of
the Female Drinking Driver
Tammy Wynette put it best:
"Sometimes it's hard to be a woman..."
That is especially true in the arena of DUI law. A female behind the wheel after a couple of drinks is at
a double disadvantage compared to her male counterpart.
The first disadvantage is obvious.
Men are generally larger than women. But because drinks don't come
in a "male size" and a "female size," that means that an identical
number of drinks can result in a substantially higher breath or blood
alcohol level in the female drinker. It's a substantial problem under
modern drunk driving laws.
The second disadvantage to the female
drinker arises from the body structure that men find so attractive.
The gentle curves of the female body result from the physiological fact
that women have more body fat than men do. On average, a woman has
a 25% higher body fat level than a man does. That is, the average
woman has a body fat percentage of around 20%, while an average man's
body fat is around 16%.
What does this have to do with alcohol?
Alcohol is a "hydrophilic" chemical.
It dilutes in water, but is repelled from fatty tissue. When you drink alcohol, the
alcohol accumulates in the water-based parts of your body: the
brain, the blood, the organs and the muscles.
Since an average man has more muscle
and more blood volume (water-based tissue) than a woman, the alcohol
that he drinks is more diluted by his muscles, organs and blood volume.
A woman's body, with less muscle and more fatty tissues, squeezes the
alcohol she drinks into a smaller volume of water-based tissue.
It's like pouring the same amount of alcohol in a smaller container.
The result is that a woman--even if she
is the same height and weight as her male drinking partner--will get a
20-25% higher blood alcohol level from the same drink.
So when the experts say to calculate a
.02 blood alcohol for every beer, drink or glass of wine, DON'T BELIEVE
THEM. If you are a woman, you should calculate .035 for every
drink. It is a rare woman who can rely on being under the limit if
she has more than two drinks in an hour.
Just one more way that life isn't fair.