Many people have heard of BAC levels, and what can happen if they’re too high and law enforcement gets involved, but not everyone understands how the process works. BAC levels are used to determine if a person should be able to operate a motor vehicle legally. How this determination is made consists of several parts and processes. this guide will explain what BAC is, why it’s important to know your level before making decisions, and what the consequences of some of those decisions might be.
What is BAC?
Blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration is a means to measure the amount of alcohol present in a person’s bloodstream. If a person has a BAC of .10% that means that a person’s bloodstream contains one part alcohol for every 1000 parts blood.
When a person consumes alcohol, it is broken down into sugars in the bloodstream. How much a person drinks, as well as other factors, determines how quickly the alcohol is broken down and the effects it has on the person. A person’s system can only handle so much alcohol before it is affected by its presence. This is called intoxication. For some people, it could take the form of slurred speech and wobbly movement, while for others, they don’t look or act intoxicated, even if their BAC is above legal limits.
From a legal standpoint, anyone who has a BAC over 0.08% is legally prohibited from driving. A person’s fine motor skills and reaction time become impaired at this level, and this can be dangerous when operating a motor vehicle. If a law enforcement official suspects a driver is impaired, the officer can perform a series of tests to help determine if a crime has been committed.
Variables that Affect Your BAC (Variables = Factors)
There are several variables that can affect your BAC level.
Defining “One Drink”
The definition of the term “one drink” can vary depending on several factors. First, a standard drink size varies depending on the type of alcohol and the alcohol content:
When you examine the amounts above, you’ll see that a can of beer, a glass of wine, and a cocktail are equivalent to “one drink” based on their alcohol content. It takes much less of the distilled spirits to count as a single drink because of the elevated alcohol content. Three people of the same age and body type are drinking, but one is drinking beer, one is enjoying a glass of wine, and the other is having scotch on the rocks, the wine drinker is consuming much more alcohol than the beer drinker, and the scotch drinker is consuming even more, even though the can contains much more liquid. This is why, for some, “just one drink” could be enough to increase their BAC to illegal levels.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Calculator
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How Can a BAC Calculator Help You?
Knowing your blood alcohol concentration can help you make smart decisions when it comes time to leave the bar, restaurant, or friend’s house. A BAC calculator can help you determine if you are possibly at, near, or over the legal BAC limit.
Most calculators require that you enter your gender, and then your weight. This is no time to be proud, you need an accurate reading, so even if you only look like you weigh 120 pounds, if you actually weigh 135 you need to enter that number. Then, you have to choose the type of alcohol you’ve been consuming and finally how long it’s been since your first drink. The calculation will let you know your current BAC. You can use this information to decide whether to drive home, call a cab, or wait a little while and check again. Ultimately, it can help prevent you from driving while being under the influence, an act that can have legal and lasting consequences.
What are the BAC Limits in Each State?
In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 0.08% is the legal BAC limit. Most states have a “zero tolerance” level for underage drinking set at 0.02%, but New Jersey has a limit of 0.01%, while Alabama, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Oregon have a literal zero tolerance level of 0.0%. Aggravated DUI, a charge imposed when a driver’s BAC is much higher than 0.08% occurs in every state except for Alabama, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, and Vermont. For the rest of the US, .15% or higher could result in an aggravated DUI charge.
Typical Tests Used to Test Your Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels