DRUNK DRIVING BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS / BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT

Blood alcohol content (BAC) or Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) is the amount of alcohol in the body.

Most of us enjoy an alcoholic drink on occasion, typically at a social gathering with family and friends or at a sporting event. What happens between your body and the alcohol usually is of no concern to us (even when suffering the effects of too much to drink). But understanding what the body does with the alcohol after drinking could save you a costly Drunk Driving conviction .

For purposes of this article, think of our relationship with alcohol in four phases:

  1. Consumption (the enjoyable part - having a drink),
  2. Absorption (once the alcohol reaches our stomach and small intestine the body begins absorbing it into our blood streams),
  3. Distribution (after or while absorbing, the body transports the alcohol to the liver, heart and brain and begins to have an effect on us), and
  4. Elimination (after or while absorbing and distributing, the body uses oxidative enzymes to break down the alcohol into carbon dioxide and water).

During the Elimination phase, a very small percentage of alcohol is excreted through your breath. This allows for a sample of breath to be taken for a BAC test or breath alcohol test. The types of Breathalyzer tests administered to determine your BAC are: PBT's (portable breath test), Datamaster test and DMT test.

Everyone goes through all four phases, no matter your height, weight, gender, or 'tolerance level'. But a number of factors will have an influence on your BAC. These include:

  1. Passage of Time.
  2. Number of drinks consumed.
  3. The size of the drink(s) consumed.
  4. Percent alcohol content of drink(s) consumed (fast absorption).
  5. Carbonated drinks consumed (fast absorption).
  6. Drinking on an empty stomach (fast absorption).
  7. Height and weight.
  8. Age and gender.
  9. Physical activity.
  10. Drinking on a full stomach (slow absorption).
  11. Food and drinks with high content of carbohydrates (slow absorption).
  12. Medicines that delay stomach processes (slow absorption).
  13. Smoking (slow absorption).

The bottom line is that every person responds differently to alcohol, which leads to varying absorption, distribution and elimination rates. However, the following charts are some general rules of thumb, but should not be relied upon when considering driving after consuming alcohol.

 

Weight

Number of Drinks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

100

0.032

0.065

0.097

.0129

.0162

0.194

0.226

0.258

0.291

120

0.027

0.054

0.081

0.108

0.135

0.161

0.188

0.215

0.242

140

0.023

0.046

0.069

0.092

0.115

0.138

0.161

0.184

0.207

160

0.020

0.040

0.060

0.080

0.101

0.121

0.141

0.161

0.181

180

0.018

0.036

0.054

0.072

0.090

0.108

0.126

0.144

0.162

200

0.016

0.032

0.048

0.064

0.080

0.097

0.113

0.129

0.145

220

0.015

0.029

0.044

0.058

0.073

0.088

0.102

0.117

0.131

240

0.014

0.027

0.040

0.053

0.067

0.081

0.095

0.108

0.121

*One drink is considered:

Ø 1.5 fl oz (44mL) of 80-proof liquor,

Ø 5 fl oz   (148 mL) of wine,

Ø 12 fl oz (355 mL) of beer or wine cooler.