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An overview of blood alcohol concentration levels

When motorists in the state of Pennsylvania area found to have a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level of .08 or higher, they may be arrested for drunk driving. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were more than 52,000 people arrested for driving under the influence across the state in 2014. While most of the drivers who find themselves facing such charges know they have consumed alcohol, many think that their BAC level is within the legal limit. Thus, it behooves people to understand BAC levels and the factors that affect them in order to avoid serious drunk driving charges.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out, alcohol, when consumed, is absorbed into the walls of the small intestine and the stomach. From there, it travels into the bloodstream. This process happens quickly, and the amount of alcohol in people’s systems can typically be measured within 30 to 70 minutes after they have consumed alcoholic beverages. In general, people’s BAC is the weight of the alcohol that is present in a certain volume of their blood.

Many people mistakenly believe that the type of alcohol they consume will affect their BAC level. This is not the case, however. There are 0.54 ounces of alcohol in one standard size drink. According to the NHTSA, one 12-ounce glass of beer, one five-ounce glass of wine or one shot of hard alcohol constitute a standard drink.

While the type of alcohol people consume does not generally affect their BAC levels, there are a number of factors that may play a role in how fast their BAC levels rise. The number of drinks people have and the time frame in which they consume them may contribute to them having an elevated BAC level. Generally, the body is able to process about one ounce of liquor per hour. This means that if people consume more than two standard drinks per hour, then their systems may become saturated with alcohol. Consequently, the alcohol will accumulate in their body tissues and blood until it is able to be metabolized. Additionally, people’s gender, weight and whether they have had anything to eat before drinking also affect their BAC levels.

By having an understanding of what BAC levels are and the factors that may affect them, it may help people avoid being arrested for DUI.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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