What Is BAC? Everything You Need to Know About Blood Alcohol Concentration

What is BAC?

Gainesville and Ocala DUI Lawyers

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol found in a person's blood or on their breath, and is often expressed as the percentage of alcohol in the blood. When an individual drinks, the alcohol is absorbed into the stomach lining and small intestine before being infused into the blood. Alcohol in the bloodstream travels to the brain and, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, can lead to mild to severe impairment of cognitive function.

Due to the impact of alcohol on the brain and body, under Florida law drivers are guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) if their BAC levels reach the following limits:

  • BAC of .08% for a driver aged 21 or older
  • BAC of .02% for a driver under the age of 21
  • BAC of .04% for a driver with a commercial license

What impacts BAC?

Blood alcohol concentration is the percentage of alcohol in the blood, and the rate at which alcohol is absorbed by the body and into the blood is impacted by certain factors.

How fast or how slow an individual becomes intoxicated is typically based upon:

  • The individual's weight and build
  • The individual's gender
  • The amount of alcohol consumed
  • The strength and type of alcohol consumed
  • The length of time alcohol was consumed
  • Whether the alcohol drink is carbonated
  • The amount of food consumed
  • Whether the individual was taking certain types of medications

How does alcohol affect the body?

Alcohol's influence on the body grows stronger as an individual's BAC increases and more alcohol gets to the brain.

Although not everyone is the same, alcohol generally has the following effects at each different BAC level:

  • BAC of .01% to .02%: The individual may experience subtle side effects, but these can only be detected by specialized tests.
  • BAC of .03% to .05%: The individual's ability to concentrate will be impaired.
  • BAC of .06% to .09%: The individual's depth perception, peripheral vision, glare recovery, and ability to reason will be impaired.
  • BAC of .10% to .19%: The individual's speech, ability to walk, reflexes, reaction time, and gross motor control will be impaired.
  • BAC of .20% to .29%: The individual will exhibit severe motor impairment and memory blackout, and may lose consciousness.

How can I lower my BAC?

After a night of drinking, people often try a variety of tricks to reduce their BAC and help them sober up before driving home. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are no shortcuts to lowering your BAC. Despite what you may have heard, such "tricks" as drinking coffee, eating a big meal, taking a cold shower, or running around the block will not sober you up any faster. BAC is only reduced as the alcohol is metabolized by the body. If you have been drinking, don't risk a DUI by trying these useless shortcuts; call a friend or hire a taxi to take you home safely.

How is BAC measured?

If a law enforcement officer suspects that you are operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, you will be pulled over and asked to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC. There are two main types of tests used to measure a driver's BAC:

Breath Test
This test is administered on the scene and the officer will instruct the individual suspected of drunk driving to breathe deeply into a Breathalyzer or other breath machine. The machine measures how much alcohol is on the individual's breath and then uses this amount to estimate the percentage of alcohol that is thus in the blood. This method is noninvasive, and although the results are an indirect measurement of the driver's blood alcohol concentration, this evidence can be very convincing and valuable to prosecutors in proving DUI charges.

Blood Test
Blood tests provide the most accurate measurement of BAC, which is why the results of these tests are typically favored by law enforcement and prosecutors. The blood test is administered at the police station or a lab and involves a trained professional drawing a blood sample for the individual suspected of DUI. The sample is then analyzed by a qualified technician or medical professional to determine the percentage of alcohol in the individual's blood. Blood tests provide a direct measurement of the suspect's blood alcohol concentration.

Ways to Challenge Breath and Blood Test Evidence

Failing a breath or blood test can be frightening and overwhelming, but it is important to know that you may still be able to fight the evidence. There are different factors that can have significant and negative impacts on your breath and blood test results.

A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate the circumstances that led to your arrest and the specifics of your chemical testing to determine if your rights have been violated and if the evidence should be ruled invalid because of the existence of such factors as:

  • There was not probable cause for the officer to stop your vehicle
  • The officer did not observe you for 30 minutes before the breath test was administered to make sure you did not burp or vomit
  • The breath machine was not maintained properly
  • The breath machine was calibrated incorrectly
  • An alcohol-based swab was used to clean your skin before the blood sample was drawn
  • The blood sample was not drawn by a trained and qualified individual
  • The blood sample was not analyzed according to standard procedure
  • The blood sample was mislabeled
  • The chain of custody for the sample was broken, causing a possible mix up
  • The sample was tainted in some way

Need a lawyer for DUI charges in Marion County, FL?

Florida prosecutes drunk driving crimes severely, and the penalties can be very harsh for even a first-time offense. If you are charged with drunk driving, it is crucial that you explore all your options before making any decisions about how you will plead before the court.

The Ocala criminal attorneys at Dunham & Ingram are experienced defenders who can provide the knowledgeable legal guidance and aggressive advocacy you deserve. Our team is committed to helping the people of Marion County effectively challenge DUI charges, and we can fight for your rights and interests.

Don't give up hope just because you failed a breath or blood test; contact an Ocala DUI lawyer from our firm to enlist the powerful defense you need!

Benefits of Choosing Dunham & Ingram LLC:

  • Experienced

    We have experience handling all types of misdemeanor and felony cases.

  • Committed

    We are committed to tirelessly protecting your rights and interests.

  • Aggressive

    We have extensive courtroom experience and know how to fight for you in trial.

  • Helpful

    We will answer any questions and make sure you understand your rights and options.