Blood Alcohol Concentration
The state of Texas takes driving under the influence very seriously. There are a number of DUI and DWI laws in place to deter any potential drunk drivers and penalize those who do get behind the wheel after drinking. Because Texas does have strict policies concerning alcohol and driving, it is important you know the laws so that you can protect your rights if you ever find yourself in a DUI situation.
Your blood alcohol concentration, otherwise known as your BAC level, is the main evidence taken and used against a driver who is suspected of operating his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Your BAC level is the concentration of alcohol in your system, or blood stream.
If you have been accused of driving under the influence, it is imperative that you get the professional legal support that you need and deserve. Contact a Houston DWI attorney for more information on your legal options and to discuss your situation with a friendly attorney.
What do BAC and 0.08 mean?
BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration, and it is the percentage of alcohol present in 100 milligrams of blood, 210 liters of breath, or 67 milliliters of urine. You are considered legally intoxicated if your alcohol concentration equals 0.08 or more.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the primary evidence that is collected and used against a driver accused of operating their vehicle under the influence. Your BAC measures the weight of alcohol in your blood and creates a percentage indicating your level of intoxication.
In Texas, any driver over the age of 21 with a BAC of .08 or higher is legally under the influence and will be prosecuted for violating the DUI law. For those under 21 there is a zero tolerance policy, meaning minor drivers with any alcohol in their system will be prosecuted for DUI.
How many drinks can I have before my BAC is 0.08?
There are a number of factors that can have an impact on your blood alcohol concentration. These include:
- How many drinks consumed
- How quickly drinks were consumed
- Length of time between eating and drinking
In the state of Texas, it is illegal for all adults over the age of 21 to drive a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher. For individuals under the age of 21, there is a zero tolerance policy, so any trace of alcohol (a BAC over 0.00) is against the law.
How is intoxication verified?
A police officer verifies intoxication with the use of a breathalyzer, urine test, blood test, and a field sobriety test.
Field Sobriety Tests
When law enforcement officers suspect a driver of operating his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may choose to pull the driver over and administer a field sobriety test. The tests are designed to identify tell-tale signs of driver intoxication and may give the officer reasonable cause to arrest the individual and charge them with DWI.
It is important to be aware of the types of field sobriety tests used by police officers and how they are administered. In some cases, the tests may be incorrectly administered or may not be admissible in court, so it is important to have an experienced DWI attorney on your side to help defend your rights. For more information on field sobriety tests and DWI charges, contact a Houston DWI attorney.
Commonly Used Tests
If an officer believes that a driver may be intoxicated, he or she may administer tests including:
- Balance tests like standing on one leg or walking a straight line
- Vision tests like the “horizontal gaze nystagmus test”
- Memory and concentration tests like reciting the alphabet or counting
- Dexterity tests like touching your finger to your nose and then moving the hand away from the face
In addition to the physical and mental tasks, drivers may be asked to submit to chemical testing, including blowing into a breathalyzer machine to determine the individual’s “blood alcohol content” or BAC.
Factors That Affect Alcohol Tolerance
Social drinkers and others who consume alcohol typically have a good idea of their alcohol tolerance, or the amount of alcohol that they can drink while still being able to function. Although your body can adapt to alcohol and “learn” tolerance, there are several other factors that can greatly affect your alcohol tolerance.
Unfortunately, even if you are functioning normally, alcohol still gets absorbed into the blood stream. This can lead to a blood alcohol content, or BAC, over the legal limit. If you have been charged with DWI or DUI, you should contact an experienced Houston drunk driving lawyer.
Alcohol Tolerance and You
When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into your bloodstream through the intestines. Later, water from your body helps flush the alcohol from your system. Thus, your hydration levels and digestive process play a major role in alcohol tolerance. Other factors that affect alcohol tolerance include:
- Body fat percentage – more body fat equals less body water, making it more difficult to flush alcohol from your system
- General body size – if a small person and a larger person drink the same amount of alcohol, the larger person has proportionately more body water, giving them a higher tolerance
- Food – the presence of food in your stomach helps slow down the rate at which alcohol gets absorbed into the bloodstream since you must absorb your food as well
Of course, regardless of your body fat percentage, body size, or most recent meal, the alcohol you drink still ends up in your bloodstream, raising your BAC.