In California, it is illegal for a person to drive a vehicle when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. Although you might know what the legal BAC limit is, you might not be aware of what this number represents. In this blog, we'll discuss what blood alcohol concentration is.

What the Numbers Mean

Blood alcohol concentration is a metric used to express how much alcohol is in a person's system, either in 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. Generally, the amount of alcohol depends on how many standard drinks a person has had. However, several factors can affect BAC levels, which we'll discuss shortly.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard drink has about 14 grams of pure alcohol. The amount of alcohol in a drink depends on what type of beverage it is.

A standard drink is about:

  • 12 fl. oz. of regular beer (5% alcohol)
  • 7 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (about 40% alcohol)

When you, or any other person, drinks an alcoholic beverage, the stomach and small intestine move the alcohol through the blood and eventually to the liver. The liver processes the alcohol, but can only do about one standard drink every hour. What the liver doesn't process stays in the bloodstream. Thus, as you drink more, more alcohol remains in your blood because the liver has much more to process.

If you are subject to a chemical test to determine your BAC, it's analyzing how much alcohol is still in your system. The methods used to measure blood alcohol concentration include blood, breath, or urine testing.

Factors that Can Affect BAC

As mentioned earlier, several factors can impact BAC levels. Therefore, the number of drinks one person has may have a different effect than on another person who drinks the same amount.

Factors that determine BAC include:

  • Age: Older people are usually more affected by alcohol than younger people.
  • Food: Having had a big meal before drinking or eating while drinking can make BAC levels increase slower. However, the amount of food consumed has a lesser effect than other factors.
  • Weight: BAC levels can increase faster in people with low body weight.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to have their BAC levels increase faster than men.
  • Medications and controlled substances: The use of legal or illegal drugs can cause BAC levels to increase more quickly.

Typically, when a person's BAC is around .08%, they may experience several impairments, including:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Slower reactions and reflexes
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor vision

If you've been accused of a contact Koenig Law Office at (661) 793-7222 today. Various defenses can be mounted in these types of cases, and we'll thoroughly review your circumstances to develop a unique strategy for you.