Your blood alcohol level is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body. While your liver naturally processes alcohol, the process can be relatively slow. A failure to drink at a responsible rate will lead to intoxication, which can impair your decision-making ability and can be dangerous to your body.
In California, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is the legal limit before most individuals will be charged with a DUI. However, lower levels of intoxication don’t mean that you are free to drive. If you are underage, are driving a commercial vehicle, or are driving unsafely, lower levels of intoxication can still lead to criminal penalties.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or other alcohol-related offense, you are facing serious consequences. Contacting a DUI lawyer is a great first step to make sure that you are treated fairly by the criminal justice system. Call (310) 862-0199 to connect with a knowledgeable DUI who will evaluate the unique circumstance of your case for free.
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 judgement and motor skills at fairly low levels and can be fatal at higher concentrations. Understanding what happens to your body at different blood alcohol levels is key to understanding what a dangerous BAC can be.
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 judgement. 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%
At this blood alcohol level, you will begin to notice more serious changes to your body and mental acuity. You may feel more extroverted and less inhibited. Your reflexes, reasoning, and vision will start to be impaired. At a 0.08% BAC and above, you may be charged with a DUI if you are found driving.
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. Your heart rate and breathing can be 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. A number of factors can impact how quickly your body processes alcohol and how much it will increase your BAC. These factors include:
- How much you’ve drank
- What you’ve eaten
- How long 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. 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.
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 the 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 are 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 being dismissed.
Call (310) 862-0199 to schedule a free consultation with a leading DUI attorney to who will sit down with you and evaluate the unique circumstance of your case. The criminal justice moves quickly for DUIs in California, so you should too.