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What is blood alcohol content and why is it tested?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | DUI

If a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence, they will most likely test your blood alcohol content. BAC testing determines how much alcohol a person has in their blood at a given time, which can indicate the level of inebriation.

Additionally, a person’s BAC can also establish whether they are too drunk to operate a vehicle, which in most states entails a legal limit of 0.08% BAC. Here are a few important facts to consider about BAC.

Understanding BAC

As you consume adult beverages, the alcohol they contain gets absorbed by your digestive system and sent to your bloodstream. Alcohol then makes its way to the liver, which filters it out of your system. However, your liver can only process so much alcohol at once, usually about one drink per hour. If you drink an excessive amount of alcohol quickly, your liver will not keep up, and you will experience the effects of inebriation.

Common BAC ranges

People begin to feel the effects of alcohol by 0.02% BAC, although they remain minimal at this point. By 0.08% BAC, which is the legal limit, you will experience judgment impairment and reduced response time. By 0.10%, slurring and decreased thinking can occur, and by 0.15%, you may experience nausea and vomiting.

How tolerance affects BAC

People who drink on a regular basis will build up a tolerance to alcohol. A person with a high tolerance may not feel the effects as acutely as a person who rarely drinks. However, alcohol has the same effect on BAC, regardless of a person’s tolerance.

Accordingly, you may not feel inebriated, but you might still have an elevated BAC. This shows why it is important to avoid binge drinking, both to prevent legal issues and ensure safety for yourself and others.