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Understanding BAC to avoid a DUI or DWI

If you are like other southern Maryland residents, when it comes to blood alcohol content, you focus on trying to make sure that yours is not 0.08% or above since that is the state's legal limit. However, did you know that you could still face arrest even if your BAC does not reach that minimum level?

Learning a bit more about what happens as BAC rises in your body may help you better understand how you could end up in the back of a police car suspected of either driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated.

Factors that contribute to a rising BAC

Determining how alcohol affects your body is not as easy as counting the number of drinks you consumed. You also have to take into consideration the following: 

  • Not every alcoholic drink is created equal. For instance, the alcohol content of a glass of wine is much less than that of a shot of whiskey or tequila.
  • How far apart you consume each drink also plays a role since alcohol metabolizes at a certain rate. If you space out your drinks far enough apart, you won't feel the effects as if you had them one after the other in a short amount of time.
  • Certain medications can also affect how quickly you will begin to feel the effects of alcohol.
  • Other factors that influence its effect on you include your weight, age, gender, hydration level and digestion. Moreover, your individual body chemistry could also play a role in how quickly you feel its effects.

As you can see, you would need to consider numerous factors in order to figure out just how quickly alcohol will affect your body. Simply counting drinks would more than likely be a mistake. For instance, if you drink on an empty stomach, you will probably feel the effects faster than you would if you ate first. Even then, that is only one of the many factors you need to consider.

The body's reaction to alcohol as you drink

As your BAC begins to rise depending on the above factors, the effects begin to make themselves apparent at a BAC as low as 0.02. In fact, let's take a look at what happens to you as you reach the legal limit:

  • At 0.02, you probably feel more relaxed, but you can't track objects as well as you do when sober. You are more easily distracted since you already have trouble multi-tasking.
  • At 0.05, you aren't tracking objects as well, your alertness drops and focusing your eyes gets harder to do. Small-muscle control diminishes, which inhibits your ability to react in emergencies, and you may even have trouble steering your vehicle well.
  • By the time you reach 0.08, your reaction time, balance, muscle coordination, visual and auditory acuity, and judgment all diminish significantly. You have difficulty recognizing speed, obstacles and more when driving.

Even at lower BACs, you present a danger to yourself and others. For this reason, police often rely on more than just a breath test for a DWI or DUI arrest. If you can avoid driving after drinking altogether, that would be the most prudent course of action, but everyone makes mistakes.

If you do end up under arrest on suspicion of DWI or DUI, you may want to begin addressing the situation as quickly as possible since the consequences of a conviction go well beyond paying a fine or spending a few days in jail. You may lose your driver's license or your job, and your insurance rates could skyrocket. Whether it's your first offense or not, an attorney can help you find the best possible resolution to the situation.

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