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What You Need to Know About BAC

BAC stands for the term blood alcohol content (or blood alcohol concentration). It is often used when referring to a driver's impairment level. BAC is the amount of alcohol found in someone's blood as weight per unit of volume. The legal limit of .08 means that .08% of all of the blood in a person's body is alcohol at that time. When a driver's BAC is .08 or over, it means that they are legally considered too impaired to safely drive a vehicle.

How can BAC affect a driver?

The more alcohol someone drinks in a set period of time, the higher their BAC will be. This can vary based on the individual's gender, weight, meals eaten that day, and how quickly and what type of alcohol was consumed. This has nothing to do with alcohol tolerance, which refers to how much someone must drink before they feel too drunk. Someone with a low alcohol tolerance may feel intoxicated with a low BAC, while someone with a high BAC may be over the legal limit before they feel impaired.

Drivers can exhibit certain symptoms at different BAC levels, such as:

  • .02 often results in divided attention, decreased visual functions, difficultly focusing on multiple things.
  • .05 leads to decreased reflexes, control, and coordination.
  • .08 can cause an inability to control speed or process information, as well as short-term memory issues.
  • .10 may lead to an inability to control motor skills, such as lengthened reaction time.
  • .15 typically results in significant problems controlling motor skills, such as driving a vehicle, and inability to concentrate or visually focus.

When a driver is pulled over and has their BAC tested, this will determine whether they have illegally gotten behind the wheel of a car. One of the ways an officer will determine this is asking for a breath or blood test. Regardless of how impaired a driver feels, they can be charged with DUI if their BAC is at or above .08. Further, a driver with a low alcohol tolerance can be arrested if they are impaired but below the legal limit.

In DUI cases, BAC can play an important factor. Drivers with higher BAC levels, for example, may faces enhanced penalties. Regardless of the BAC level, anyone arrested and charged for DUI should be intent on working with an experienced attorney.