Your blood alcohol level is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body. A failure to drink at a responsible rate will lead to intoxication. This will impair your decision-making ability and be dangerous for your body – and other bodies if you get behind the wheel while drunk.
A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than 0.08 reaching into the double digits is dangerous. In California, there are various legal limits that drivers must abide by. If you drive with a dangerous BAC, you can face serious penalties if arrested and convicted.
Dangerous Blood Alcohol Levels
Alcohol has a wide range of effects on individuals, depending on how much is in a person’s system. The greater a person’s BAC, the more alcohol impacts the body. Alcohol can impair judgment and motor skills even at reasonably low levels and can be fatal at higher concentrations.
Understanding what happens to your body at different blood alcohol levels is key to understanding a dangerous BAC.
BAC Below 0.06%
Below a BAC of 0.06%, the effects of alcohol may seem minor. You may feel more relaxed and happier. However, you will be less alert, have more difficulty concentrating, and can exercise worse judgment. Even while this is below the levels for a DUI charge in California, it can be unsafe to drive.
BAC Between 0.06% and 0.10%
You will begin to notice more serious changes to your body and mental acuity at this blood alcohol level. You may feel more extroverted and less inhibited. Your reflexes, reasoning, and vision will start to be impaired. You may be charged with a DUI at a 0.08% BAC and above if you get found driving.
California Vehicle Code 23152(b) makes it unlawful for any person to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This law is designed to prevent drunk driving, which is a serious danger to public safety.
BAC Between 0.11% and 0.30%
After your body reaches a BAC of 0.11%, you will notice substantial changes. Many of the “happy” effects of alcohol disappear in this range, replaced by emotional swings, anger, and depression.
You will also have severe motor impairments, poor reaction times and may lose consciousness and memory. A BAC of 0.15% or higher can result in even more severe penalties for drivers.
BAC Higher than 0.30%
Once you reach a BAC of 0.30% or higher, you reach the most dangerous blood alcohol level. Your emotions can take a sudden downturn into severe depression, and you can lose control of your bladder.
In addition, your heart rate and breathing can get seriously impaired at this stage. As such, this can be a lethal blood alcohol level and likely requires immediate medical attention.
Everybody Processes Alcohol Differently
There is no easy way to determine ahead of time how much alcohol will change your BAC. Several factors can impact how quickly your absorption rate for alcohol is and how much it will increase your BAC. These factors include:
- How much you’ve had to drink
- What you’ve eaten
- How long it’s been between drinks
- Your weight
- Your biological sex
These factors mean that you can’t necessarily rely on your past experience to determine how much you can safely drink in a night. In addition, fluctuations in weight and diet can reduce your alcohol tolerance, as can certain medications.
The one constant is how quickly your body reduces your blood alcohol concentration. Your liver will reduce your BAC by about 0.015% per hour. No amount of coffee, sleep, or cold showers will speed this rate up.
Penalties for DUI
If you get stopped by the police for DUI, the BAC you have will determine what kind of penalties you face. However, on a general principle, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) will almost always suspend your license.
The California driver handbook has a section on alcohol and drugs that provides several different legal limits depending on the age of the driver and what kind of motor vehicle gets driven while under the influence:
- For adults, .08 BAC is the legal limit.
- For minors, there is a zero-tolerance policy. If you’re under 21, .01 is the legal limit.
- For operators of commercial vehicles, .04 is the legal limit.
Even if you get your license suspended, there are ways you can still drive legally, especially if this is only your first offense. Don’t underestimate the legal penalties involved with DUI charges. It’s in your best interest to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible.
Turn to an Experienced DUI Lawyer if You’re Facing a DUI Charge
Driving with any alcohol in your system, even if it isn’t at a dangerous blood alcohol level, is never recommended, but people make mistakes. Even if you make a mistake to drink and drive, you are entitled to fair representation in court.
Because officers and prosecutors are aggressive in pursuing DUI charges, mistakes can happen. Your BAC may rise between the time you get pulled over and when you submit to a chemical test, potentially landing you a harsher penalty than you would get otherwise.
Likewise, you are entitled to due process, and a failure to follow the law in pursuit of a DUI conviction can lead to charges getting dismissed.
Get Help for Your DUI Case Today
Even though you can represent yourself in court, it’s much better to get the help of an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. The longer you wait to reach out for legal assistance, the harder it becomes to fight back against your DUI charges. So don’t hesitate to get help as soon as you can.