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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Gastric Bypass Surgery & DWI

The lawyers at Gross & Romanick, P.C. in Fairfax Virginia staying at the forefront of the latest legal defenses has taken note that new studies published earlier this summer reveal that individuals are likely to become intoxicated faster after having gastric bypass surgery.

An article in the Washington Post on June 14, 2007 reports that a study conducted by Dr. John Morton, director of bariatric surgery at Stanford Hospitals and Clinics reveals that, on average, individuals that have had gastric bypass surgery will reach a peak BAC of 0.08 after five ounces of red wine and that alcohol will remain in the individual’s system for, on average 108 minutes. Furthermore, according to the study, approximately 1 in 10 patients of gastric bypass surgery will reach a peak BAC level of 0.15 after only one drink. Conversely, the study reveals, an individual that has not had gastric bypass surgery will reach a peak BAC of only 0.05 and the alcohol will remain in their system for only 72 minutes.

The Washington Post reported that an October 2006 show Oprah Winfrey did on gastric-bypass surgery has “led researchers to confirm that gastric bypass causes people to get drunk faster”. According to Dr. Joaquin Rodriguez, assistant professor of surgery at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, patients of gastric bypass surgery “need just to be aware that the same amount of alcohol may affect them differently than someone who hasn’t had a gastric bypass”. Doctor Morton of Stanford Hospitals and Clinics was quoted to say “patients may have high breath alcohol level and not be aware of it”.

The attorneys at Gross & Romanick, P.C. are concerned that gastric bypass patients may find themselves being wrongfully accused of drunk driving in Virginia based upon the traditional measures of Blood Alcohol Levels on a breathalyzer machine which takes a sample of breath up to three hours after the initial stop by the police. Even more alarming is the fact that gastric bypass patients may be inadvertently discriminated against because Virginia has enacted enhanced penalties and mandatory jail for driver’s who show a BAC level in excess of .15.

Jeffrey S. Romanick of Gross & Romanick, P.C. was quoted as saying “[t]he revelations in the study conducted by Dr. Morton open a host of potential defenses to gastric bypass patients wrongfully accused of drunk driving.”

For more information on the effect of alcohol on patients with gastric bypass surgery, see Amanda Gardner’s article, “Drunkenness Comes Faster After Gastric Surgery” in the June 14, 2007 edition of the Washington Post.