High BAC levels and associated harsh penalties

In the United States, alcohol is one of the leading causes of traffic deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving takes the lives of 28 people every day, or approximately one person every 52 minutes. In other words, drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people annually.

Drinking and driving can have potentially fatal consequences. As a result, every state in the US makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol over a certain BAC level.

What is blood alcohol concentration?

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream after consumption of an alcoholic beverage. The effects of alcohol depend more on BAC rather than the exact amount of alcohol consumed.

When someone consumes an alcoholic beverage, the stomach and small intestines absorb the alcohol into the bloodstream. Since alcohol is toxic to the body, the liver metabolizes it to filter it from the blood. However, if a person consumes alcohol faster than their liver can process the alcohol, the person’s BAC will increase.

As a result, individuals who consume alcohol may experience symptoms of intoxication, also known as intoxication. Therefore, consuming more alcohol in a shorter period of time leads to a higher blood alcohol concentration. In general, the liver can process one alcoholic beverage per hour.

Measurement of BAC and the legal limit for driving

Blood alcohol concentration levels can be measured using a blood test or breathalyzer test. Breathalyzers provide quick results, and police often use them on individuals suspected of driving under the influence. However, the accuracy of this method is not as high as determining the level of alcohol concentration in the blood using blood tests.

Each state has established a specific BAC level as the legal limit for driving. Every state except Utah has set a BAC level of 0.08 percent that makes a person legally incapable of driving a car. In Utah, a BAC level of 0.05 percent is the legal limit at which it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle.

Factors affecting blood alcohol concentration level

Everyone’s BAC level increases after consuming alcohol, but the rate of increase varies greatly from person to person. The following factors cause BAC levels to vary between individuals:

#1. consumption rate

The faster a person consumes alcohol, the faster their BAC increases and, in turn, the faster the person becomes intoxicated. The liver, which the body uses to break down alcohol, can only do so at the rate of one drink per hour for a standard drinker.

But when that rate is exceeded, more alcohol filters into the bloodstream, causing intoxication. Therefore, anyone who consumes more than one alcoholic standard drink per hour experiences an increase in BAC. This is because alcohol enters the body faster than the liver can metabolize it.

#2. body weight and food intake

The amount of water in one’s body increases with weight. After consuming the same amount of alcoholic beverages, a person who weighs more will have a lower BAC level than a person who weighs less. This is because water dilutes the alcohol and can also reduce BAC levels.

Additionally, food intake is another factor affecting BAC levels. A person who does not have food in his stomach or intestines will have a higher BAC than a comparable person who has food. This is because when food is present in the digestive tract, the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream slows down.

Other factors that affect blood alcohol concentration levels include mood or level of fatigue, type of drink, and medications taken. A person’s hormone levels can also affect their BAC levels.

Effect of different blood alcohol content (BAC) levels on driving

Different BAC levels have an impact on driving skills. Some of these BAC levels and how they affect driving abilities are as follows:

  • BAC 0.02 percent: Inability to multitask, lack of judgment, increased restlessness, slight increase in body temperature, mood swings and decreased visual functionality.
  • BAC 0.05 percent: increased lack of judgment, decreased ability to detect moving objects, exaggerated behavior, lack of coordination, inattentiveness, lack of inhibition, decreased small-muscle control, and decreased reaction rate.
  • BAC of 0.08 Percent: Decreased muscle coordination, lack of self-control, lack of reasoning, lack of judgment, loss of short-term memory, decreased concentration, lack of motor control, and decreased ability to process information.
  • BAC 0.10 percent: Slurred speech, poor coordination, slow reaction time, reduced control of the vehicle, and decreased ability to keep the car in its lane and apply the brakes when needed.
  • BAC 0.15 percent: severe loss of balance, vomiting, impairment in processing visual and auditory information, almost zero muscle control, and significantly reduced attention to driving tasks

What is considered a high BAC level and what are the penalties?

Generally, a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher is considered high. A person convicted of driving under the influence with a high BAC level may face additional or harsher legal penalties.

In other words, the higher the BAC level, the more likely the person is to face a harsher sentence. However, penalties for drunk driving vary from state to state.

Harsh penalties for DUI with high BAC

Research has shown a strong link between high BAC levels and traffic deaths. As a result, many states now have harsher penalties for driving with a high BAC. For example, in New York a driver can be charged with a misdemeanor if his blood alcohol level is 0.18 percent or higher.

Getting a second DWI can be a class E felony. A conviction for a high BAC DWI can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 4 years in prison. This can also result in driving license suspension for 18 months.

Third-time offenders with a high BAC (0.18 percent or higher) may face fines up to $10,000. The driver could face up to 7 years in prison and driver’s license suspension. Additionally, regaining driving privileges will require installation of an ignition interlock device and completion of DUI education.

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Driving while intoxicated has many consequences, which can range from DUI charges to jail and fines to injuries, vehicle damage, and even deaths. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, do not face these charges on your own. Contact a skilled criminal attorney to discuss your defense options.