Age and gender differences in blood-alcohol concentration in apprehended drivers in relation to the amounts of alcohol consumed

Forensic Sci Int. 2009 Jul 1;188(1-3):40-5. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.03.010. Epub 2009 Apr 24.


This article reports the age, gender, and blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of people apprehended in Sweden for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUIA) over an 8-year period (2000-2007). Duplicate determinations of ethanol were made in venous blood by headspace gas chromatography and results were reported positive at a cut-off concentration of 0.1 g/L (10 mg/100 ml or 0.01 g%). The mean, median and highest BAC was 1.74 g/L, 1.70 g/L and 5.18 g/L, respectively. The vast majority of offenders were men (89.5%) with a mean age of 39.0+/-14.6 y (+/-SD). The women (10.5%) were a few years older 41.8+/-13.6 y (p<0.001). The mean BAC in the men (1.73+/-0.85 g/L) did not differ significantly (p>0.05) from women (1.77+/-0.87 g/L). The youngest offenders aged 15-20 y (N=3513) had a mean BAC of 1.30+/-0.60 g/L (median 1.32), which was significantly less (p<0.001) than people aged 40-50 y (N=6644); mean 1.90 g/L (median 2.0 g/L). In 95 individuals (89 men and 6 women) the BAC exceeded 4.0 g/L, which is a level considered to cause death by acute alcohol poisoning. The Widmark formula was used to calculate that a man (80 kg) with a BAC of 1.7 g/L has 95 g ethanol (approximately 12 units of alcohol) in the body compared with 61 g (approximately 8 units) for a woman (60 kg). This study verifies that the average drunken driver in Sweden is typically a binge drinker and education programs and treatment for alcohol-use disorder might be a more appropriate sanction than the more conventional penalties for alcohol-impaired driving.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Female
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol