Monthly Archives: January 2010

Alcohol Poisoning: A New Record

We have a winner! A new blood-alcohol content (BAC) champion.

The legal limit for BAC in most states is 0.08%. Below that you get to walk and above that you get to wobble yourself to jail. In general, and this varies greatly from person to person, a level below 0.04 causes little effect, while between that level and 0.08 some loss of judgment and coordination occurs. This becomes even more pronounced with a level up to around 0.12 to 0.15 or so. These people typically appear intoxicated. If you go higher to a level above 0.20, you might be considered sloppy drunk. And a level above 0.40 can be lethal.

There is a term in medicine and forensics known as the LD50, which stands for the Lethal Dose 50%. This simply means that if you give 100 people this dose of a drug, 50 will die. In the case of alcohol this amount results in a BAC of around 0.40%. Anyone who drinks this amount of alcohol has a 50% chance of dying. Of course statistics such as this are only important to the masses since own individual level it’s either 0% or 100%. You either die or you don’t.

Enter our champion. It seems that on December 1, 2009, Marguerite Engle was found sleeping on the side of Interstate 90 in South Dakota. The South Dakota Highway Patrol stopped to investigate and found Marguerite asleep in a stolen van. She was arrested and toxicological examinations were done. Her blood-alcohol level came back at 0.708. Nearly twice the lethal level and nine times the legal limit in South Dakota. The previous record for South Dakota is believed to be 0.56. Marguerite shattered that record.

This brings up two points. The first is, you can’t kill a drunk. A drunk driving a tiny, underweight hybrid can slam head-on into a family of four in a massive SUV and the family will be killed while the drunk walks away. Happens all the time. Ask any ER doc and he will agree. Fortunately, Marguerite Engle didn’t kill anyone.

The second point is that poisons and drugs are unpredictable. What can kill one person may not kill the other. What can harm one person may go unnoticed by another. Obviously Marguerite can handle alcohol whole lot better than the average Joe.

Rapid City Journal Article


Posted by on January 3, 2010 in Poisons & Drugs

%d bloggers like this: