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Factors That Affect Blood Alcohol Concentration

When individuals consume alcohol, this leads to an increase in their levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The rate of this increase varies from one person to the next, a number of factors can affect how quickly an individual’s BAC level rises after imbibing on any particular occasion. Read about the factors that affect blood alcohol concentration and explore how a New Hampshire personal injury, criminal law, and family law attorney from Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC can help individuals with their legal concerns by contacting (603) 707-4800.

Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines BAC as an individual’s level of alcohol, measured by weighing the amount of alcohol within a specific blood volume via a breathalyzer or blood test between 30 and 70 minutes after drinking. According to the United States Department of Transportation, having a BAC level of 0.08% or more while operating a vehicle constitutes driving under the influence (DUI) in every state, a legal threshold established because this level of BAC greatly increases the risk of vehicle collisions. However, a BAC level below 0.08% can still impact a person’s driving ability, leading to thousands of fatal vehicle collisions each year in the United States.

Why Is It Important To Know the Factors That Affect Blood Alcohol Concentration?

Understanding the factors that impact a person’s BAC can help individuals make smart decisions to protect their own safety and that of those around them by better anticipating when factors are in play that increase the likelihood that even small amounts of alcohol will raise the BAC enough to cause impairment. Prepared with sound information, individuals can avoid drinking alcohol when these factors are present, or ensure that another responsible adult will be ready to act as driver. This helps people avoid potential driving under the influence (DUI) charges, which can greatly impact a person’s reputation, finances, and future if successfully convicted. Moreover, becoming informed and planning ahead can make it easier to prevent situations in which the need to get home may persuade an intoxicated individual to put their own and others’ lives at risk by driving a vehicle while impaired.

How Do You Lower Your BAC?

The only factor that lowers a person’s BAC is time. Because everyone has different metabolism rates, the exact amount of time varies between individuals. In contrast to popular beliefs, drinking coffee, consuming multiple glasses of water, or having cold showers does not help individuals to sober up more quickly.

What Factor May Affect a Person's Blood Alcohol Concentration?

Various factors impact a person’s BAC. However, perhaps the most crucial influences are the number and size of the alcoholic drinks consumed, and the speed at which this occurs, since everyone becomes more intoxicated as they consume more alcohol. In the United States, standard alcoholic drinks are usually the following:

  • Single 12 oz serving of standard beer (alcohol level between 4.5% and 6%)
  • Single 12 oz serving of White Claw (alcohol level of 5%)
  • Single 7 oz serving of malt liquor (alcohol level of 7%)
  • Single 5 oz serving of wine (alcohol level of 12%)
  • Single 1.5 oz serving of hard liquor (alcohol level of 40%)
  • Single 0.5 oz serving of Everclear (alcohol level of 95%)

Understand more about blood alcohol concentration, in addition to the factors that affect blood alcohol concentration, and find out how a New Hampshire personal injury, criminal law, and family law attorney can be of assistance by organizing a consultation with Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC.

What Is the Impact of Alcohol at Different BAC Levels?

Here is a summary of how alcohol impacts individuals at different levels of BAC:

  • Between 0.01% and 0.03%: Many individuals experience few effects at this BAC level apart from an elevated mood. Operating a vehicle with this level of BAC if under the age of 21 is illegal.
  • Between 0.04% and 0.06%: Individuals experiencing this level of BAC will likely encounter feelings of warmth and relaxation, in addition to mild impairment of their memory and reasoning.
  • Between 0.07% and 0.09%: The symptoms suffered at this BAC level typically include mildly impaired speech, balance, control, and vision.
  • Between 0.10% and 0.12%: At this stage, the individual might experience slurred speech, loss of judgment, and impaired motor coordination.
  • Between 0.13% and 0.15%: People with this level of BAC may encounter blurred vision, significantly impaired motor control, restlessness, and anxiety.
  • Between 0.16% and 0.20%: This BAC level entails the onset of nausea and feeling uneasy. In New Hampshire, a BAC of 0.16% or more is grounds for an aggravated driving while impaired (DWI) charge.
  • Between 0.25% and 0.30%: Individuals with this BAC level are severely intoxicated and may need help with walking. They may experience confusion, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Between 0.35% and 0.40%: A BAC in this range can lead to becoming unconscious and a risk of falling into a coma.
  • BAC greater than 0.40%: At this BAC level, the individual will likely enter a coma and could potentially die because their respiratory system fails.

What Are the Factors That Affect the Absorption of Alcohol Into the Blood?

Other than total amount of alcohol and rate of consumption, some of the other factors that affect alcohol absorption in the blood include the following:

  • Body composition and size: Individuals with a smaller stature are likely to become impaired more quickly than those with a larger body composition and size.
  • Stomach content: This mainly refers to the amount of food rather than the type. Large meals close to the time that the drinking started can reduce the individual’s peak BAC level.
  • Carbonated and energy drinks: Mixing carbonated drinks with alcohol speeds up the alcohol’s absorption into a person’s bloodstream. Consuming energy drinks with alcohol can mask the alcohol’s effects due to the combination of depressants and stimulants, a combination which also puts strain on the person’s heart.

What Are the Factors That Affect Alcohol Intake?

These factors also impact a person’s BAC level:

  • Feeling ill or recently recovering from an illness
  • Failing to get enough sleep or drink sufficient water before drinking alcohol
  • Experiencing strong, negative emotions
  • Combining marijuana use with drinking alcohol
  • Taking prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicine in addition to alcoholic drinks

Contact a New Hampshire Criminal Law, Family Law, and Personal Injury Attorney Today

Individuals arrested for driving while impaired likely have concerns about the possible impact a conviction might have on their finances and reputation. If involved in this situation, consider contacting a seasoned attorney for assistance with fighting for your legal rights. Learn more about blood alcohol concentration, including the factors that affect blood alcohol concentration, and discover how a New Hampshire criminal law, family law, and personal injury attorney from Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC can help individuals by calling (603) 707-4800.


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About the Attorney
Jesse Friedman

Jesse has personally represented thousands of clients throughout the State - from juvenile delinquency offenses through homicides. He has extensive trial and litigation experience and has obtained favorable outcomes for thousands of clients throughout the years.

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