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Iowa Man's 'Astronomically High' Blood-Alcohol Level Baffles Local Officials

A North Liberty man was arrested in late July with a blood-alcohol content twice the lethal dose. Several Johnson County officials say they have never seen an alcohol level recorded so high.

OUTSIDE IOWA CITY -- A local man, who lived despite recording a blood alcohol content twice the lethal (not legal) limit, may now have the dubious distinction of being the most intoxicated person ever arrested in Johnson County.

Justin A. Clark, 24, of North Liberty, was arrested July 29 after North Liberty police received reports of a driver colliding with curbs and attempting to rev up his engine.

Clark was sitting in the driver’s seat and was unable to answer any of the officer’s questions, police said. He also was unable to get out of the vehicle, walk or perform field sobriety tests, police said.

Police said when they asked Clark where he thought he was, he said he was at home, and when they asked him what day it was, he replied, “Three, but now it is four.”

Initially, tests showed his blood alcohol level at .486. When tested at the hospital later, Clark's alcohol content level in his blood was rated at twice the lethal amount of .3, and almost eight times the legal drinking and driving limit. At that time it was .627.

Vanessa Miller of the Gazette spoke with a health expert who said that the fact that Clark survived this is amazing.

Michael Takacs, clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine and an emergency room doctor at the , said 0.627 percent is higher than any level he’s seen during his eight years in the field.

At that level, Takacs said, a person would have to go to the intensive care unit and would be at risk of losing heart and respiratory functions.

“That’s astronomically high, and the highest I’ve ever heard of,” Takacs said. “For even the most seasoned alcoholic, 0.627 would be a lethal dose possibly.”

Officials in several branches of law enforcement, health care and the county prosecutor are among those who say it is the highest blood alcohol level they've ever seen.

Clark does not have a listed telephone number, and could not be reached for comment.

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Mike Walsh August 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM
It's my understanding that a 0.4 blood alcohol content means a 50-50 chance of death. Young man: LISTEN UP! "There is life after alcohol and it's a beautiful life!" Call AA today!
Maria Houser Conzemius August 16, 2012 at 02:30 PM
+1, Mike Walsh.
Anton August 16, 2012 at 02:32 PM
"Clark was sitting in the driver’s seat and was unable to answer any of the officer’s questions, police said. He also was unable to get out of the vehicle, walk or perform field sobriety tests, police said." I can understand why, he was snockered. He should never be behind the wheel, I know the legal limits are very low, usually one beer will put you at that limit so when they say someone was twice the legal limit many people think the person is smashed when they are not but this guy was way over the legal limit
Stephen Schmidt August 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM
@Tony He was reportedly tested at twice the limit that is generally considered potentially lethal, between .3 to .4. He was actually about 8 times the legal limit to drive.
Stephen Schmidt August 16, 2012 at 03:05 PM
A reader sent me this: .30 is not the lethal limit for alcohol consumption. As a retired Police Officer in CA. I've had BAC of .74 as the highest I've arrested but have seen .83 from another Officer's arrest. Chemist from our State Lab and also from the FBI lab have told me they consider .70 to be the lethal amount in someone who does not consume alcohol on a regular basis but for someone with a daily drinking problem they had actually tested and recorded over a .90 and the person live. In my arrest the male was driving as well as an individual who younger and with out a built up toleration would have been around a .20 When I arrested my driver I gave him a Breathalyzer test first and the machine went off at at .50 in three seconds. People normally are requested to blow for a minimum of 11 seconds. He was taken to the hospital and a blood sample drawn approximately a hour after his arrest. Drivers with .40 are not an uncommon occurrence nationwide. Thiose arrests are made daily. But the individual in your story is apparently a daily drinker and has built up a alcohol toleration factor. At his age had he not he would have passed out between the .30 and .40 range. Each 1 ounce of .86 proof alcohol or 1, 12 ounce beer produces .02 blood alcohol level. The Human body under normal circumstances will shed this .02 over the distance of 1 hours time. So to reach this level you can see how much he had to drink and for how long to reach his level assuming he drank 5 drinks an hour.
Trisha Lynn Dragon August 16, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Where is Darwin when you need him? it's sweet people are concerned for his health but I can't help but not give a crap. This waste of humanity could well have murdered some folks. Where was he that he could be THAT drunk, and nobody stopped him from hopping in the car? There isn't really any info on that. Where was he, who was he with? If the answer to those questions aren't drunk at home and alone, local PD needs to pick up a few more folks for letting this human turd hop in a car and set about endangering the lives of others. My patience with these fools is long gone. It's not at all difficult to refrain from driving when you are going to be drinking. There is no excuse.
Maria Houser Conzemius August 16, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Trisha Lynn Dragon, I, too, am concerned about the risk this individual poses to the public. I thought Mike Walsh was really kind to throw him a rope (AA) and I didn't want to detract from that thoughtful offer of help. Still, I'd be surprised if the alleged drunken driver grabbed the rope and pulled himself to safety. Meanwhile, if he drives, he'll be dangerous to the rest of us.
Mike Walsh August 16, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Kids today (I really mean young adults) frequently use caffeine enhanced alcoholic beverages. That means you don't pass out, but rather these young adults keep drinking until these fantastic levels of intoxication are attained--hospital emergency rooms are full of stories about the danger of mixing alcohol with caffeine.
Matthew Georges August 16, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Kids today? Did whiskey in coffee not exist before gen-x? Get real.
Tyrell August 17, 2012 at 09:48 AM
Stupid - Yes, Dumb - Yes, Hangover - Like none before LOL - Glad he was picked up by an officer before anything bad could have happened, good job on that arrest!
Elizabeth Gaspodnetich April 13, 2013 at 05:34 PM
I am also retired Police Officer and have seen my share of high BAC numbers. One of my first was a young man approx in his 20's, during the investigation he first blew a 0.52, he went straight to the hospital! He was walking and talking, not well but he was doing a lot better than I would have thought. If my BAC was this high I would be 6' under. It amazes me how people can torture their bodies and yet live.

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