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Legal Review: What Is A High BAC? 2023 DUI Guide

The history of drunk driving laws started in 1906 in New Jersey. Today, every state in America has a limit for blood alcohol concentration for drivers.

“Unlike other moving violations, driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense,” says DUI lawyer Adam Rossen. Upon conviction, the offender could face prison time, hefty fines, or lose their driving privileges.

All states except Utah have a 0.08 percent BAC limit. In Utah, the limit is 0.05 percent. On average, it takes three to four servings of beer for the blood alcohol concentration to reach a BAC of 0.08 percent for an average male and two to three servings for a female.

Factors Affecting BAC

The blood concentration also depends on other variables, such as the amount of alcohol consumed over a given period. For example, if you take one serving of alcohol in hours, the body will have sufficient time to metabolize the alcohol, thus keeping your BAC low. On the other hand, drinking several servings over a short period can cause your BAC to increase significantly.

Also, body mass can influence how soon a person’s BAC level reaches the legal limit. People with large body mass can take more alcohol than slim people without reaching the BAC limit. Taking alcohol on an empty stomach can significantly increase the absorption rate of alcohol in the blood, meaning you reach the BAC limit faster than the person that had a meal before consuming alcohol.

Effects Kick in Earlier Than the Limit

While a 0.08% BAC may be the state limit, the effects of alcohol start taking a toll on the driver with the first drink. According to experts, mood and judgment are affected when a person’s BAC hits 0.02. However, this level of alcohol may not pose so much danger.

After hitting the 0.05 percent mark, a person will have less inhibition in their behavior, their vision can be slightly blurry, and their coordination can be significantly affected. At this level of intoxication, driving a car is significantly dangerous. At 0.08 percent concentration, judgment and reaction times are affected considerably, increasing the chances of getting into an accident.

The outcomes of DUI charges can depend on how high above the limit a driver was when pulled over. In most circumstances, a BAC slightly higher than 0.08, for example, 0.09 percent, may be overlooked due to the margin of error. Even when charged with DUI under such circumstances, a lawyer can help you get off the hook by arguing that the value is within the error limit.

Higher BAC 

States have different approaches to punishing drivers, with a BAC limit higher than 0.15 percent. When drivers have a BAC of 0.15 percent, they are too intoxicated to operate a vehicle safely on the road. They will have trouble walking or talking, resulting in a loss of muscle control. Diminished muscle control means their response time can be significant.

In Texas, a driver with a BAC of 0.01 will be guilty of a class A misdemeanor punishable with one year in jail, up to $4,000 in fines, and up to two years of license suspension. In California, a driver faces up to six months imprisonment, $1000 in fines, and up to two months of driving privilege suspension. It could be different in your state, with repeat convictions attracting harsher penalties.

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