Man has blood alcohol level of 0.491

Stanley Kobierwoski, 34, Providence, Rhode Island, was arraigned Tuesday on charge of DUI and resisting arrest. His blood alcohol level was 0.491, a likely record in the state for a living human. From the Associated Press:
Kobierowski... was arrested after he drove into a highway message board on Interstate 95 in Providence, (police Maj. Steven) O'Donnell said.

After police arrived, Kobierowski had trouble getting out of the car, then grabbed it and refused to move, forcing troopers to carry him to the breakdown lane before taking him back to their barracks, O'Donnell said...

The legal limit in Rhode Island is 0.08. A level of 0.30 is classified as stupor, 0.4 is comatose and 0.5 is considered fatal, according to the health department.
R.I. police say man had 0.491 blood alcohol level (SF Gate, thanks Jennifer Lum!)

UPDATE: BB pal Jess Hemerly points us to the 2005 story of a Bulgarian man who had a confirmed blood alcohol level of 0.914.


  1. My question is this: did the police follow up with a blood test? Whenever I see something like this I have to wonder if the equipment was functioning properly. I have little doubt that the guy was drunk, but it seems far more likely that the breathalyzer was wrong than that this guy was conscious and “driving” with a BAC of .491.

  2. Yeah let’s believe the cops. It’s not like they ever lie or fluff up numbers all the time.

  3. As a laboratory professional, I’m surprised this made the news. We get patients at .500-.600 on a regular basis, who are still speaking in complete sentences. Although we are talking about Wisconsin here…

  4. I worked the night/day shift in an ER in Wisconsin for 7 years now and 491 is no record in my book. Impressive, yes. No record though. Serious alcoholics can reach substantial numbers. My personal record of a patient was 521, but I’ve heard stories of upper 500’s.

    It’s a regular thing that people will be discharged from Detox only to show up 3 hours later in the ER with a BAC of over 400. These people will be walking and talking as well (and usually handsy). It’s very obvious that they are intoxicated, but are still able to answer most questions correctly… or swear at you.

  5. @1 – Agreed, breathalyzers are notoriously inaccurate and test results can also vary dramatically due to improper use.

  6. Since most governments define an alcoholic beverage as a liquid containing more than half of one percent alcohol by volume, this guy’s blood was very close to being an alcoholic beverage. Kind of a natural “bloody mary” I suppose.

  7. The stats quoted are a little oversimplified. In terms of .5 being fatal, I imagine it is for most people. But it’s not universal, with toxic substances it never is. Everybody has different tolerances, and while most people will fit into a certain range, there will always be outliers.

    On most MSDS sheets, such levels are specified in LD50 for the animal they were tested on. That is lethal dose for 50% of the population. There are those in the population that will require more, others that will need less. It’s not uniform by any means.

  8. I would question when the equipment was last calibrated. I was told by both law enforcement and lawyers that if you ever blow a high number on an alcohol test you should ask when the equipment was last tested. Most have never been tested since they left the factory and are wrong.

    These same people contended that defendants who questioned the calibration of the machine often had their cases thrown out of court. It makes sense. A machine that has been knocking around in a car for ten years probably is not working properly.

  9. I work at a Community Detox facility. As stated above, .49 isn’t outlandish. I’ve seen numbers approaching .6 and the local Ambulance drivers have a .700 club. This kind of BAL is the result of years of daily drinking to excess. If you can get this high level of ETOH in your system, you probably also are at risk of Delirium Tremens when drying out. Seizures, hallucinations, heart problems are common.

    As i recall, that Bulgarian dude died.

  10. 0.914?! That’s for babies! Translate this portuguese news with your favorite translation tool and be surprised with 3.03 grams of alcohol per liter of blood:
    And if I recall it correctly, that’s not even the world record. As far as I know, I belongs to a Portuguese also, with something around 3.3g/l or 3.4g/l.
    Oh, and by the way, 0.5 is the legal limit in Portugal. I think that’s why we have so much alcohol related deaths.

  11. “Kind of a natural “bloody mary” I suppose.”

    OK, so maybe Digg has gotten to me, but I sure do wish I could give this comment a thumbs up.

  12. When I was driving an ambulance, we had a population of folks who could top .5 at the ER with no trouble, and would measure a .3 or so if they hadn’t had a drink in quite some time.

    Anything close to that would kill me and most people — you really have to work your way up to tolerating those sorts of levels.

    Also: It doesn’t sound like everyone is quite clear on this — .5 means one-half of one percent of your blood is alcohol, not half your blood.

  13. Having known two alcholics who could consume seventeen-twenty ounces of 80 proof in less than an hour and still be walking and talking … I am unsurprised.

  14. In the bad ol’ days of the 60s and 70s a certain hospital in northern Arizona would see 6s, 7s, and occasionally an 8. Some were such frequent ‘customers’ that their ID info was tattooed on them…..

  15. When I was in college, a girl was taken to the hospital with .682 – here’s the original story from 1999:

    Sadly, after a little bit of Googling, it looks like she died in 2004.

    It’s definitely her too, because the date of birth on the obituary matches up with the original news story that she was out celebrating her 21st birthday. I’m pretty curious to know what happened. I wonder if it was related.

  16. I’m glad several people commented on the unremarkableness of this story. My dear old mom regularly tested above 0.4 and it was even a point of pride with her. (Guess what she eventually died of.) Once while I was waiting with her to be admitted to detox, some guy came in and blew a 0.5, and was quite functional. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the number can be much higher. Chronic alcoholics just build their tolerance up so much that such a high blood alcohol level doesn’t affect them the way it would most of us.

    When I was in college, my mom joked, “Don’t let your BAL exceed your GPA!”

  17. In Munich, Germany at the Oktoberfest, I saw a woman selling certificates of BAC to beer tent patrons. For a few Euros, you had your BAC tested on the spot and received an award like certificate with your official level. You of course could pay more later to check on your ‘progress’.

    German word of the day: Bierleiche (beer corpse)

  18. At least we haven’t gone the way of the nanny yet and banned alcoholic beverages, like we have some plants.

  19. The sound barrier…he four minute mile… the 30 foot long jump…someday a dedicated professional will break the 1% BAC level and the world will stand in stunned admiration.

  20. I believe it. I was on a ride along with my brother-in-law in Duluth and we picked up a guy who blew a .386 on two machines. He was semi-awake enough to be a bad-conversationalist, but I am sure it took him a long time to dry out. So I believe it.

  21. >I would question when the equipment was last >calibrated. I was told by both law enforcement >and lawyers that if you ever blow a high number >on an alcohol test you should ask when the >equipment was last tested.

    Yes, you should check this.

    >Most have never been tested since they left the >factory and are wrong.

    Maybe 20 years ago. Now they are calibrated all the time.

    >These same people contended that defendants who >questioned the calibration of the machine often >had their cases thrown out of court. It makes >sense. A machine that has been knocking around >in a car for ten years probably is not working >properly.

    If a machine hasn’t been calibrated, the case might well be dismissed – but in 15 years of practicing criminal law, I have never seen that happen. My state – and I suspect most states – have strict calibration regulations. Also, breathalyzers aren’t kept in cars – there is a portable breathalyzer that is used for probable cause, but the results of a PBT aren’t admissible as evidence.

  22. The record in my Denver ER is 1.095

    The fellow was able to give us his name and birthday, though he was unable to walk. Someone told me the same guy hit 1100 a month or so later, but I wasn’t on shift. We’re not allowed to look up patient charts who aren’t in the ER, so I can’t check the 1100 rumor. Several months before, the same guy had urinated on one of our CT scanners and temporarily broke the machine!

    The FiatRN
    Denver, CO

  23. Regarding the Bulgarian, I just don’t believe that someone could have almost 1% alcohol in their blood and live. Although I suppose he could pickle his innards and die late enough after the fact to not have a follow up news report.

  24. My mother told me of a town drunk in the upper penninsula of Michigan who survived a night in a snowdrift. Now I know why.

  25. “At least we haven’t gone the way of the nanny yet and banned alcoholic beverages, like we have some plants.”

    …Been there. Done that. Prohibition caused far more problems than it solved, and only served the egos of the Prohibitionistst.

  26. re: #42

    I’ll provide summary here:

    This guy had BAC measured at 1.2% by forensic examiner. He has died in gas explosion he has caused. Possibly a suicide, as he had a fight with his family and barricaded himself in the kitchen, then detonated a propane bottle (attached to a cooker).

    The article is light on other details.

    There was also another case of 1.2%, the record maker was also diagnosed post-mortem, after he walked into traffic and got hit by a car.

  27. One more thing from that article…

    Mr. Wilk, who was handling the investigation, said that similar levels were noted in some cases, where a person would drink large amounts of alcoholic beverages regularly, causing constantly elevated BAC, which might spike to very high level after drinking of next bottle.

  28. I just found list of articles – concerning drunk peoples (it’s about what stupid things peoples do while they are under influence).
    Most of them focus on different aspect of intoxicated persons behavior (like 0,4% air-gasoline train driver, 0,5% biker or 0,6% burglar ;p)
    excluding guy’s with 0.9% and 1.24% they are record breakers ;)

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