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How does someone’s BAC level affect them as it rises?

Most people know that .08% is the “per se” blood alcohol content (BAC) level that makes you legally “drunk.” But people can exhibit signs of impairment even while they’re well below that limit.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, one person dies as a result of drunk driving about every 52 minutes. The tragedy is made exponentially more tragic when one considers that each and every one of these deaths is preventable. Knowing the signs of rising intoxication can help you identify when you or a friend has had too much drink to safely drive.

Typical effects of blood alcohol concentrations

Being informed and aware of the increasing impairment that comes with different levels of BAC can help one to know when enough is enough. Here’s what you may see as someone’s BAC rises:

  • BAC .02%: The typical effects include a mild impairment of judgment and a general feeling of relaxation. One may also begin to feel a slight increase in body temperature marked by flushes cheeks and a generally altered mood.
  • BAC .05%: The difference between .02 and .05 is exponential. At a BAC of .05, a personal behavior becomes noticeably exaggerated and overly animated. There may be some loss of fine motor skills such as being able to keep eyes focused and accomplish tasks that require dexterity
  • BAC .08%: At a BAC of .08 a person’s muscle coordination is more than hindered, it is poor. Lowered inhibitions felt at this stage make it difficult to perceive danger. Self-control, decision making, logic, coordination and memory are all significantly affected. 
  • BAC .10%: Obvious effects of slurred speech, lack of motor skills, reaction times and thinking that is much slower. The person is thoroughly compromised at this point.
  • BAC .15%: Unless a person has a high tolerance, vomiting may be present at this stage. At this point, there may be stumbling and falling down as a loss of balance. Unconsciousness is not far away. 

At .08% BAC a person can be convicted for DUI even if they appear to be sober — but a drunk driving charge can be carried forward even when you’re considerably below that amount. If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, take immediate steps to protect your interests.