Possible to Sober Up (w/o signs of influence) In 50 Min.?

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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

If a person has digested enough alcohol to be impaired, would it be possible for them to sober up (using whatever "enhancement" mechanisms at their disposal - e.g., drinking lots of water, eating food, etc.) and not show signs of having been impaired anymore within 50 minutes?

Specifically, if a person was driving while intoxicated and hit a car, but had 50 minutes of time to do whatever they wanted without anyone knowing, would that person biologically be able to sober up to the point where their previous state of intoxication would not be noticeable?

I ask for both the pure academic reasons of curiosity and because it relates to something suspicious that happened to me recently. Trying to figure out if someone may be lying!
 

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  • #2
berkeman
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If a person has digested enough alcohol to be impaired, would it be possible for them to sober up (using whatever "enhancement" mechanisms at their disposal - e.g., drinking lots of water, eating food, etc.) and not show signs of having been impaired anymore within 50 minutes?
Nope.
 
  • #4
CWatters
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What do you mean by "any signs" and "noticeable"? I've seen people appear sober when I know they have consumed quite a lot. The limits for driving are pretty low. You can appear sober but still be well over the safe limit and impaired for driving. Its why many countries use breath alcohol meters these days.
 
  • #5
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What do you mean by "any signs" and "noticeable"? I've seen people appear sober when I know they have consumed quite a lot. The limits for driving are pretty low. You can appear sober but still be well over the safe limit and impaired for driving. Its why many countries use breath alcohol meters these days.
As in, if a cop were to speak to you, they'd not suspect you were intoxicated (presently or previously...say within the last 50 minutes to 1 full hour). Long story, but basically, someone hit our parked car and self-reported to police (but not immediately - the gap is what was suspicious). Police wrote it up as accident. No criminal actions. But, some details didn't add up (or, at least, were kind of weird - but maybe still possible) with how the driver described things + how our damaged car looked + what others told us (who actually saw it).

When you say the limits are "pretty low," you mean the legal limit to drive with blood alcohol content? It's .08, right? And something like .04 for commercial truck drivers? I think that's just two beers for a woman of 130 lbs or so? Three beers for a man of 130 lbs?

For me, I can't hold alcohol at all! More than a single beer and I'm already not feeling right. My body is wimpy like that. But, most guys are more tolerant.

The main thing was, could a person "get away" with a drunk driving accident, by buying themselves 50 minutes of time to try to sober up before calling the cops? People always say to drink a lot of coffee or water to sober up quickly. Other say take a cold shower or eat lots of food, etc. As a math/biology problem, I guess I'm wondering if you do all these things to speed up the sobering up process, can you do it within 50 minutes?
 
  • #6
jim mcnamara
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No. If BAC (blood alcohol level) is up your liver removes the alcohol by changing to other compounds. One is acetaldehyde - which is the cause of hangover.

The breakdown takes about 5.5 hours if the level (US) starts at 0.08 g/Dl, the legal limit. As you age this takes process happens more slowly.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3062940:
The metabolism of ethanol to acetaldehyde in the liver proceeds via alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and the microsomal ethanol-oxidizing system (MOS), whereas catalase plays no significant role. ADH is an enzyme of the cytosol, requires NAD+ as cofactor and exhibits a pH optimum in the alkaline range. The Km of ADH is about 2 mM for ethanol (equivalent to 0.1%). Thus, the enzyme is already saturated at low ethanol concentrations. Conversely, MEOS resides in the endoplasmic reticulum, requires NADPH and O2, is inhibited by CO and exhibits a km of about 10 mM corresponding to 0.5% ethanol. This enzyme system is therefore primarily the pathway of ethanol metabolism at intermediate to high ethanol concentrations. MEOS has many properties in common with other drug metabolizing enzymes and is characterized by inducibility following chronic ethanol consumption, which suggests the involvement of the microsomal system in the adaptive enhancement of ethanol clearance commonly observed in alcoholics. The product of ethanol oxidation by ADH, MEOS and catalase is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is oxidized in the liver to acetate by NAD dependent aldehyde dehydrogenase. Four isozymes have been identified. Lack of isozyme I is responsible for the "flush-syndrome" commonly observed in Asian [patients] following alcohol intake. Ethanol metabolism is affected by the aging process and is decreased with advancing age.
https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/how-long-in-system/
On average the liver can metabolize 1 ounce of alcohol every hour. ... blood level of 0.05, the legal limit for driving, takes 5.5 hours to leave the system.
 
  • #7
jim mcnamara
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We seem to veering off target, please stay with Biology. Thank you.
 
  • #8
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I removed several posts which dealt with real life accidents or incidents and answers to them.
We do not discuss potentially legal issues here for many, which I find, obvious reasons.
You may discuss biology, however, "IIRC, hooking up to a dialysis-style activated carbon stack *could* decontaminate your system enough to scrape by" is neither biology nor science at all, only a wild guess which sounds wrong given the 50 minutes time window in the title.
 
  • #10
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Side question: there seems to be some kind of wide agreement that a sudden rush of adrenaline would somehow improve mobility in case somebody is drunk, but would not affect anything else (the subject is still drunk, but can move - is that even an improvement?).

This feels right, but given the popularity of the whole 'drunk and fast sober up' topic on google anything scientific is buried under a ton of ... fertilizer.
Anybody please have anything relevant about this issue?
 
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