BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration, a measure of how much alcohol a person has in their system.
BAC or Blood Alcohol Concentration is a way of measuring how much alcohol you have in your system. While not a perfect metric, it’s widely used by courts to draw the line between “intoxicated” and “sober.”
Any alcohol you drink ultimately ends up in your blood. As you consume it, alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the stomach lining and the small intestine. This is a gradual process, and alcohol takes time to be absorbed. As more of it gets into your blood, more of it reaches your brain and you become more impaired.
BAC is normally expressed as a percentage. For example, the legal “limit” for most drivers in California is .08% BAC, although there are circumstances where a much lower BAC will still count as a DUI.
Two different individuals can drink the same amount of alcohol and end up with a different BAC. The difference depends on:
- Your age and weight
- How much food you consumed
- What type of alcohol you drank
- Whether it was carbonated
- How long you took to drink it
Despite these differences in alcohol consumption, if two people have the same BAC they will experience roughly the same level of impairment or intoxication. This is why it’s used as a standard in DUI cases.
But BAC can be misleading, even when confirmed with a test. Often, BAC will continue to rise long after you stopped drinking. That means you were less drunk when you were pulled over than you were hours later at the breath test. In some cases this is a valid DUI defense.
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