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J Forensic Sci. 1991 Mar;36(2):376-85.

Peak blood-ethanol concentration and the time of its occurrence after rapid drinking on an empty stomach.

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Department of Alcohol Toxicology, University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.


Healthy men, 20 to 60 years old, drank a moderate dose of ethanol in the morning after an overnight fast. They consumed either neat whisky in amounts corresponding to 0.34, 0.51, 0.68, 0.85, or 1.02 g of ethanol per kilogram of body weight or 0.80 g/kg ethanol solvent diluted with orange juice. The peak blood-ethanol concentration (BEC) increased with the dose administered, but the time required to reach the peak was not markedly influenced over the range of doses studied. At a dose of 0.68 g/kg, the peak BEC ranged from 52 to 136 mg/dL (N = 83), and slow absorption (a late-occurring peak) produced a lower peak BEC. The peak BEC was reached between 0 and 45 min for 77% of the subjects (N = 152) and between 0 and 75 min for 97% of them. The time of peaking in venous blood occurred, on average, 10 min later than in capillary (fingertip) blood although the peak BEC was not appreciably different; the mean venous BEC was 97.0 mg/dL (range, 76 to 112 mg/dL), and the mean capillary BEC was 99.6 mg/dL (range, 75 to 123 mg/dL). When subjects drank 0.80 g/kg ethanol diluted with orange juice over 30 min, the average BEC increment between the end of drinking and the peak was 33 mg/dL (range, 0 to 58 mg/dL). The rate of absorption of ethanol was 1.78 mg/dL/min (range, 0.52 to 4.8 mg/dL/min), and the peak BEC occurred within 60 min after the end of drinking in 92% of the trials. The largest BEC increment (mean, 21 mg/dL; range, 0 to 44 mg/dL) was seen during the first 15 min after the drinking period.

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