Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and Drunk Driving Arrests

When someone is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she will likely be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Driving with a alcohol blood content above the limit is in itself illegal, and a person can be subject to penalties regardless of whether he or she shows signs of intoxication.

In the United States, every state has a DUI statute that sets the legal BAC threshold at .08%. In some circumstances and for certain groups of people, the limit is even lower, and you can still be charged with driving under the influence even if your BAC is below the legal limit.

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What is Blood Alcohol Content?

Blood alcohol content is the amount of alcohol in your blood.

A BAC test actually measures the weight of alcohol in a certain volume of your blood, expressed as a percentage.

The greater the level of alcohol in your blood, the more your driving will be impaired.

While all state drunk driving laws say that a blood alcohol content of .08% is considered legally intoxicated, some studies show that a blood alcohol content as low as .02% affects a person's ability to drive and increases the likelihood of an accident.

The probability of a crash begins to increase significantly at a blood alcohol content of .05% and climbs rapidly above .08%.

How is BAC Measured?

BAC is usually measured testing a person's breath, blood, saliva or urine. These tests are typically performed shortly after being stopped for suspicion of DUI.

Although police officers often use various field sobriety tests, these road tests only measure your reflexes and abilities, not your BAC.

If you fail a field sobriety test, you can still be convicted of a DUI offense even if your BAC is below .08%.

Blood testing is generally considered the most accurate method to determine your BAC. Blood testing usually involves the drawing of your blood by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. A breathalyzer test is the most common type of blood alcohol test performed by law enforcement officials. A breathalyzer measures the alcohol level in your breath from the lungs.

The Law and BAC Results

A BAC of .08 is now the legal limit in all 50 states; however, there are even lower thresholds for younger drivers in some states. Some states have a zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving policy. If you are under 21 and have any level of alcohol in your blood, even .01%, you may be facing a drunk driving charge.

The only way to accurately determine your BAC is to take a breath, blood, urine or other chemical test, but you have probably seen some general rules of thumb that help estimate BAC, depending on weight and the amount of alcohol ingested. These figures are rough estimates.

Depending on your weight, metabolism, amount of food eaten and other factors, you may be legally intoxicated even if you have fewer drinks in your system than the average man or woman of your weight could legally handle. There are also home breathalyzer kits that allow you to measure your own BAC. These tests can be highly inaccurate, and it's not encouraged to rely on them.

Talk to a DUI Lawyer about Your Results

If you have a DUI case pending against you, speak to a DUI attorney about your DUI defense today.

Call 877-349-1311 or fill out a free DUI case evaluation form above to connect with a drunk driving lawyer.

The above summary of blood alcohol content is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on blood alcohol content laws, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.

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