Everyone knows that drinking and driving is dangerous, and that it is illegal. That’s why there are DUI courts, ignition interlock devices and sober ride services. But, when you have one drink, there’s a lot less danger than when you’ve had a whole six-pack of beer. The difference between the two situations can be measured in your blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and that’s the same measurement used to charge you with a DUI.
The blood alcohol level for a DUI in all 50 states is .08 BAC. The number of drinks it takes to get there can vary under different circumstances, like gender or body weight, so one person may be able to drink more without being “drunk” while another can have just one drink for a “buzz” to happen. However, to make DUI laws fair for everyone, the .08 BAC blood alcohol level is the standard line between a criminal conviction, ignition interlock requirement, and even more dangerous risks.
That does not mean that if your blood alcohol level is less than .08 BAC that you won’t be charged with drunk driving. Plenty of states also have laws that can apply to a person with a “buzz” who is driving dangerously, meaning that if your blood alcohol level is between .05 and .08 BAC, you could still be convicted of drunk driving. There are also laws for “hardcore” blood alcohol levels that are typically around twice the legal limit.
Even with the differences in blood alcohol levels, the smartest way to stay out of DUI trouble is to not drink and drive, at all. Since all 50 states follow the .08 BAC rule for a DUI and you’re looking at more than just ignition interlock troubles, keeping your blood alcohol level at zero when driving is your safest bet.