The Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration on a Driver
July 21, 2015
Even a small amount of alcohol can impact driving ability in a big way.
Too often, drivers get behind the wheel immediately after having a couple of drinks, dismissively insisting that they are “all right to drive.” But while their speech might not be slurred and their movements seemingly fine, such individuals may be experiencing the effects of alcohol in ways they cannot realize.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, driving ability can be hindered with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level as low as .02 percent. The effects on cognitive ability, coordination, mobility, and driving skills only increase as the BAC is raised.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the effects that alcohol consumption may have on drivers at different blood alcohol concentration levels.
.02 percent BAC. At this level, drivers may experience a relaxed mood and judgement loss. Behind the wheel, they may suffer a decrease in vision ability, and find it difficult to execute two tasks at the same time. Though it may vary vastly based on factors such as tolerance levels, metabolism, and time between drinks, this BAC level is typically reached after one drink for a man over 160 pounds or a woman over 140 pounds.
.05 percent BAC. With a blood alcohol content level of .05, individuals may lose control of small muscles, and experience impaired judgement, reduced alertness, and coordination loss. When driving, they may have trouble steering and be unable to respond to emergency incidents in an appropriate or timely manner. A .05 BAC can occur after two drinks for a man of more than 160 pounds and one-and-a-half drinks for a woman of over 140 pounds.
.08 percent BAC. At this stage of drinking, it’s typical to lose muscle coordination, as well as a sense of self-control and judgement ability. Drivers with a .08 BAC may struggle to process information from traffic signals and their surroundings, and may have trouble controlling their speed. Loss of concentration ability and short-term memory is common. This BAC may occur after three drinks in a man of over 160 pounds, and two drinks in a woman of over 140 pounds.
.10 percent BAC. Individuals with a .10 BAC may be identified by a slurred speech and lack of balance. At this level of intoxication, drivers often experience impaired response time and control, and may find it difficult to brake promptly or stay in their lane. A .10 BAC may be reached after four drinks by a man of more than 160 pounds, or three drinks by a woman of over 140 pounds.
.15 percent. At this level of intoxication, individuals can experience a severe loss of balance and muscle control. When driving, they may be unable to control the vehicle, pay appropriate attention to the road, or process the visual and sound cues around them. A .15 BAC level may occur after six drinks in a man of more than 160 pounds, and five drinks in a woman of more than 140 pounds.
Again, keep in mind that alcohol affects everyone differently, and BAC levels may be affected by factors such as time, tolerance levels, and how much a driver has had to eat. For example, a woman who has not eaten much may become well over the legal limit of .08 BAC after two drinks.
Preventing Drunk Driving Accidents
As a driver, you can help to reduce drunk driving accidents by never getting behind the wheel after drinking even a couple of drinks. If you know you will be drinking, arrange for an different way to get home, such as a sober designated driver or cab.
When you are faced with a situation where someone who has been drinking is attempting to drive, you should try to prevent them from doing so by suggesting other ways they can get to their destination in a non-confrontational manner. You can explain that don’t want them to drive because you are concerned for their safety, speaking slowly and carefully so they do not become defensive or angry. If all else fails, you should try to take away their keys—better to have them annoyed than arrested or the cause of a serious accident!
If you are ever involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you can hold them accountable for their thoughtless actions by contacting a top Florida DUI accident attorney. Working with your attorney, you can file a lawsuit against the guilty driver to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and overall pain and suffering. By filing a claim, you may also be able to raise public awareness of the serious problem of drunk driving on Florida roads.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.