This case involves a worker at rubber making plant in North Dakota, who fell into a piece of mixing equipment and died as a result. At the time of the incident in question, the man had showed up for his evening shift at the factory on-time and, according to witness statements, sober. Nevertheless, following the accident the man’s managers claimed that he had been acting erratically, and that his breath smelled of alcohol. Nevertheless, it was later determined that at the time of the accident, the decedent’s BAC was well within the legal limit to operate heavy machinery. It was claimed that the small amount of alcohol in his system would not have impaired his ability to operate machinery in a safe manner.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please briefly describe any experience you may have working on similar cases.
- 2. Would a similar BAC typically impair an individual beyond working capacity?
Expert Witness Response E-035156
I am a pharmacist by training and a tenured Professor of Pharmacotherapy. Regarding this particular case, the AMA defines impairment at a BAC of 0.04% or higher; I would support the argument that alcohol created no significant impairment to the decedent’s ability to work. It is generally accepted that BAC levels up to 0.03% do not cause loss of coordination. This BAC level may induce slight euphoria, loss of shyness, and relaxation; however, the experience of these symptoms is highly dependent on the individual. These symptoms are primarily seen in naïve drinkers; those who drink regularly (like most people) but not too excess, will have developed tolerance to these symptoms and not usually experience them. I have publications in the field of substance abuse, and one in particular dealing with alcohol.
Expert Witness Response E-000583
I have been consulting and reporting on alcohol and liquor cases for many years. I specialize in forensic toxicology, including alcohol and drug cases, and have supported both plaintiffs and defendants in these matters. I have published AME and IME reports in alcohol cases and lectured on alcohol effects on humans and alcohol toxicology. Though a BAC of 0.03 may impair attention and judgment in some individuals, this is not typical as at 0.03 many people are described as sober. In general, the literature defines 0.03-0.12 as the range for impairment, while others report the 0.01-0.05 range as sober.