Page 4 - Forensic Science
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Forensic Toxicology    209

                                                                    FIGURE 6–1
                                                                    Alcohol consumption
                                                                    increases the risk of traffic
                                                                    accidents and fatalities.
                                                                    A crashed car is on display
                                                                    as part of a Don’t Drink
                                                                    and Drive campaign.
                                                                    Courtesy Peter Arnold, Inc.

                         Quick Review
                       ● Forensic toxicologists detect and identify drugs and poisons in body fluids,
                         tissues, and organs in matters that pertain to violations of criminal laws.
                       ● Ethyl alcohol is the most heavily abused drug in Western countries.

                    Toxicology of Alcohol

                    The subject of the analysis of alcohol immediately confronts us with the primary
                    objective of forensic toxicology—detecting and isolating drugs in the body to
                    determine their influence on human behavior. Knowing how the body metabo-
                    lizes alcohol provides the key to understanding its effects on human behavior.
                    In the case of alcohol, however, the problem is further complicated by practical
                    considerations. The predominant role of the automobile in our society has man-
                    dated the imposition of laws to protect the public from the drinking driver. This
                    has meant that toxicologists have had to devise rapid and specific procedures for
                    measuring the degree of alcohol intoxication. The methods used must be suitably
                    designed to test hundreds of thousands of motorists annually without causing
                    them undue physical harm or unreasonable inconvenience, while at the same
                    time providing a reliable diagnosis that can be supported and defended within the
                    framework of the legal system.
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