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Facts - Books - News    U.S. Facts Of Law:

The BAC Legal Limit

The blood alcohol content is the amount of alcohol concentrated in the blood also known as the BAC.  It is measured in grams per deciliter.  Generally, a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or higher is over the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle (DUI).

In measuring if one is over the BAC legal limit there are many variables affecting the amount of alcohol in the blood.  These include body weight, body fat, gender, nutrition and time since the alcohol was consumed.  A single drink my put a 100 lb. individual over the limit or it may take five drinks for a person weighing well over 200 lb.

The actual blood alcohol content or concentration can be measured by taking a blood sample and testing it in a laboratory.  In the field, law enforcement officers usually rely on a device called a breathalyzer which estimates the BAC by measuring the alcohol in the breath.  While not exact, it is estimated that the blood alcohol concentration as measured by these devices is within 15% of the actual number but may vary widely from brand to brand.

To measure the amount of impairment in the field, law enforcement officers will also generally administer what is called a "roadside sobriety test" or "field sobriety test".  These tests may involve several smaller tests to determine impairment and may include counting backwards, walking a straight line toe to heel, touching your index finger to your nose with your eyes closed, standing on one leg, following a moving finger with your eyes or others.

While a BAC of 0.08 g/dL is the legal limit, one should not assume that driving with lesser amounts of alcohol in the blood is as safe as driving sober.  Tests have shown that drivers with a BAC of only 0.05 g/dL is at a four times greater risk of being in an accident.

As blood alcohol content approaches double the legal limit a person will generally have a severe loss of motor control, balance, speech, judgment, vision and may suffer from vomiting.  As the BAC approaches 0.25 g/dL one generally will suffer from anxiety, be unable to walk without help, become incoherent, feel little pain from injury and is at risk of death from asphyxiation.  When a BAC of 0.40 is approached one will generally be at risk of unconsciousness and possible coma.  The risk of death from asphyxiation is pronounced.  Even higher BAC levels usually result in death without medical intervention.


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Nogales International Policeman39s drunk driving trial underway Nogales International However, the prosecution called the case pretty simple, saying that the facts show that the off duty officer crashed into another car, failed field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol concentration BAC above the legal limit when it was tested 2

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