Blood alcohol content (BAC)

BAC is the percentage of your blood volume that is alcohol. The more you drink, the more alcohol you have in your blood. As your BAC increases, alcohol’s effects become less pleasant and more dangerous

The rate at which a person’s BAC rises depends on several things.

  • The number of drinks consumed (the more you drink, the higher your BAC)
  • How quickly drinks are consumed
  • Your gender (women generally have less water weight and more body fat than men; because alcohol doesn’t go into fat cells as easily, more alcohol remains in a woman’s blood)
  • Your weight (more weight = more water; water dilutes alcohol and lowers the BAC)
  • Food in your stomach (food slows down alcohol absorption; protein is best to eat because it takes the longest to digest)

Risk Management

Lowest Risk
It is always a good choice not to drink. If you are underage, pregnant or have alcohol or other drug dependencies, it’s the best choice.

Low Risk
For men, no more than 2 drinks per day.
For women, no more than 1 drink per day.

At Risk
For men, 4 drinks a day or 14 drinks a week.
For women, 3 drinks a day or 7 drinks a week.

Studies have shown that women or men who drink at the "at risk" level or higher are more likely to experience alcohol-related consequences, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hangovers
  • Doing something they later regretted
  • Experiencing memory loss
  • Missing a class
  • Performing poorly on a paper or an important exam or paper
  • Getting into an argument or fight
  • Being hurt or injured
  • Being taken advantage of sexually or taking advantage of someone else
  • Damaging property
  • Making the choice to drive under the influence
  • Getting in trouble with the authorities

Possible Alcohol Effects

BAC Possible Effects
.02 - .04% Lightheaded mildly relaxed, mood may be intensified (positively or negatively)
.05 - .07% Buzzed Feel warm and relaxed, good moods are better and bad moods are worse, euphoria, may talk louder/act bolder than usual. May take dangerous chances.
.08 - .10% Legally Intoxicated May slur speech, balance/motor skills become impaired, sight/hearing ability clearly diminished, judgement/self-control impaired, may make poor/risky sexual choices.
.11 - .15% Drunk "high," balance very impaired, judgement, memory and motor skills impaired, may forget how many drinks you have had past this pint, men may have trouble functioning sexually.
.16 - .19% Very Drunk Euphoria may give way to unpleasant feelings (depression), difficulty talking/walking/standing, sharp increase in chances of physically injuring yourself or others, may experience a blackout at this level or higher, nausea, dizzy, blurred vision.
.20% Confusion and Disorientation May need help to stand or walk; if you hurt yourself, you probably won’t realize it because the alcohol has numbed your pain and your judgement is so impaired you might not do anything about it; nausea and vomiting common, getting very dangerous because gag reflex is impaired, so you could choke if you do throw up (especially if you black out). This can result in death.
.30% Stupor — Likely to pass out involuntarily (as opposed to lower BAC’s where you may decide to stop drinking and go to sleep); if you pass out, it may be difficult for others to wake you; possible to die from alcohol poisoning or choking on vomit at this level and higher.
.35% Equivalent to general anesthesia, breathing may stop.
.40% Coma likely, breathing and heartbeat slowed to dangerous levels due to slowdown in nerve activity.

Alcohol Poisoning

Different people experience different effects of alcohol. There are no absolutes. If a large amount of alcohol is in a person’s system, it can result in unconsciousness. The heart and lungs can be slowed to the point of stopping.

It is dangerous to assume a person will just sleep it off. People may pass out before all of the alcohol reaches the brain. When in doubt, call for emergency assistance.

How to Deal with Alcohol Poisoning

  • Wake the person up. Call their name; Shake them; Pinch their skin. If they don’t respond get help!
  • Turn and keep the person on his side so if they get sick they will not choke on their vomit.
  • Check the person's skin. If his/her skin is pale or bluish or is cold or clammy, get help!
  • Check the person's breathing. If it is irregular, or too slow/shallow (less than 8 breaths per minute or more than 10 seconds between breaths), get help!
  • Do not give the person any food, drink or medication. This could induce vomiting and cause the person to choke.
  • If you discover any one of the above problems, stay with the person and call 9-1-1. It is important to contact emergency services quickly!
  • It's better to be safe than sorry. Call 9-1-1 if there is any doubt.

BAC TABLE

Women

  Approximate Blood Alcohol Percentage
Drinks Body Weight in Pounds  
  90 100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240
 
                     
0 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 Only Safe Driving Limit
1 .05 .05 .04 .03 .03 .03 .02 .02 .02 Driving Skills Significantly Affected
Possible Criminal Penalties
2 .10 .09 .08 .07 .06 .05 .05 .04 .04
3 .15 .14 .11 .10 .09 .08 .07 .06 .06
4 .20 .18 .15 .13 .11 .10 .09 .08 .08
5 .25 .23 .19 .16 .14 .13 .11 .10 .09
6 .30 .27 .23 .19 .17 .15 .14 .12 .11 Legally Intoxicated Criminal Penalties
7 .35 .32 .27 .23 .20 .18 .16 .14 .13
8 .40 .36 .30 .26 .23 .20 .18 .17 .15
9 .45 .41 .34 .29 .26 .23 .20 .19 .17
10 .51 .45 .38 .32 .28 .25 .23 .21 .19 Death Possible
Subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking.
One drink is 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine.

Men

  Approximate Blood Alcohol Percentage
Drinks Body Weight In Pounds  
  100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240
 
                   
0 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 .00 Only Safe Driving Limit
1 .04 .03 .03 .02 .02 .02 .02 .02 Driving Skills Significantly Affected Possible Criminal Penalties
2 .08 .06 .05 .05 .04 .04 .03 .03
3 .11 .09 .08 .07 .06 .06 .05 .05
4 .15 .12 .11 .09 .08 .08 .07 .06
5 .19 .16 .13 .12 .11 .09 .09 .08
6 .23 .19 .16 .14 .13 .11 .10 .09 Legally Intoxicated Criminal Penalties
7 .26 .22 .19 .16 .15 .13 .12 .11
8 .30 .25 .21 .19 .17 .15 .14 .13
9 .34 .28 .24 .21 .19 .17 .15 .14
10 .38 .31 .27 .23 .21 .19 .17 .16 Death Possible
Subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking.

One drink is 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine.

The average cost involved with a first time DWI conviction in Texas

Attorney’s Fees — $1,500-$5,000
Cost to tow your car — $140.00
Average Fine — $500.00
Probation Fees — $780.00 per year
License Reinstatement — $125 + $1000 a year for 3 years
Alcohol Education Class — $135.00
Insurance increase — Could be 4 to 5 times as much as you pay now or you may just be dropped entirely
Total Average Cost Of A First Conviction DWI — $13,500

 

 

Alcohol Tolerance
Alcohol tolerance refers to a decreased response to the effects of ethanol in alcoholic beverages. This reduced sensitivity requires that higher quantities of alcohol be consumed in order to achieve the same drunkenness effects as before tolerance began to occur.

Texas Law establishing maximum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels for legal operation of motor vehicles (.08) do not take into consideration alcohol tolerance.

So, the more alcohol you drink over time, the higher your tolerance to the alcohol. It will take more and more alcohol to make you feel buzzed. Just because it takes more alcohol to make you feel this way doesn’t change the level of alcohol in your blood. A .08 is a .08 regardless of how you feel.

Don’t determine your ability to drive or when you should cut yourself off for the night by how you "feel". The amount of alcohol you are putting in your body should be all that counts. Stay Safe.