The hard-fast threshold for illegally driving under the influence of alcohol is a blood alcohol level of .08 percent but getting to and over that threshold is different for each driver. This can leave them unsure about their BAC, particularly in light that they still walk a straight line or may feel “fine” to drive even when they are over the legal limit.
Determining the BAC
Each person’s body absorbs and metabolizes alcohol differently, so it is not just a specific number of drinks or the cocktail’s strength. Instead, several other factors also affect the overall BAC. The most important ones include:
- Gender: Men generally metabolize alcohol faster than women.
- Weight: Regardless of sex, the individual drivers’ weight impacts the BAC, so heavier people can absorb more alcohol into their bodies without exceeding the limit than those who weigh less.
- Medications: Doctors may warn against mixing prescriptions and alcohol because the drug can influence how the body absorbs alcohol and the driver’s metabolism.
- Food: Drinking alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach enables the body to absorb alcohol faster, increasing the drink’s impact.
- Rate of consumption: Drinking faster reduces the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol consumed, impairing the drinker more quickly.
There can be other factors unique to the individual as well.
Guessing can be risky
Experienced drinkers often believe that they have a good idea of when they are okay to drive, but a breathalyzer or blood test can tell a different story. Those in doubt can play it safe and err on the side of caution, which is less stressful and risky.