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Detailing alcohol's journey from your blood to your breath

The common representation of an arrest for drunk driving arrest in Boston is a person standing on the side of the road blowing into a handheld breath testing device. If you happen to find yourself in such a position, then you may be contemplating why it is that law enforcement officers use a measurement of your breath to determine what your blood alcohol content is. This is a question often posed to the team here working for Attorney John B. Seed by those facing DUI charges. The answer requires an understanding of how alcohol makes its way through your body. 

The actual name for the type of alcohol found in drinks is ethanol. This is a water-soluble compound, which is important in explaining how ethanol ends up in your blood. According to information shared by the Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership, when you ingest ethanol. its molecules are able to pass through the layer of epithelial cells that line your stomach and small intestine via a process known as passive diffusion (which occurs much easier with water-soluble compounds). From there, the ethanol molecules pass into capillaries that surround the organs of your gastrointestinal tract and enter the bloodstream. 

The capillaries then transport the ethanol to your veins, which then carry them throughout the rest of your body (including the brain, which explains why alcohol inhibits so many of your bodily systems). They eventually end up in the blood carried into your heart, which is then pumped into your lungs through the right ventricle. As you know, your lungs contain oxygen. Once in contact with that oxygen, some of the ethanol molecules vaporize into a gas, which then escapes your body as you breathe. 

More information on how alcohol affects your body can be found here on our site. 

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