Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the measure used to define when a person is legally drunk in the U.S. The more alcohol that is consumed, the higher the BAC level, since the body can only process alcohol at a consistent rate. By drinking more than the body can process, alcohol levels rise and cause the side effects of intoxication that are all too familiar, leading to the possibility of driving drunk and those consequences.
BAC Levels and the effects:
.02% BAC – The body gets warm and somewhat relaxed, and judgment is altered slightly. Visual functions decline, as does the ability to multi-task.
.05% BAC – Inhibitions are lowered, as well as coordination and alertness. The eyes may be slower to focus or track objects, and reaction times are delayed.
.08% BAC – As the legal limit that defines intoxication, this BAC level shows significant problems with coordination. Speech, motor control, hearing and vision are all affected, and reaction time significantly declines. This level of intoxication creates a true danger on the road.
.10% BAC – Speech is slurred, and, the ability to think or move appropriately has deteriorated. As this level is above the legal limit, there is a stronger danger involved and even less ability to make correct judgment calls.
.15% BAC – Considered a “hardcore” level in many states, once a person reaches this level, they may already be vomiting, as well as exhibiting a true difficulty walking or even sitting.
.25% BAC and above – loss of consciousness, “alcohol poisoning,” and death are possible consequences to this level.
When drinking, keep in mind that the more one drinks, the less a person is able to judge his or her own level of intoxication and a BAC level of .08% can be reached in only a few hours. By understanding the effects of drinking on the body and mind, it can be easier to set a limit before drinking, and to stick with it, or to plan for a safe ride home with a designated driver or taxi.