BAC

Q: What is "BAC"?

A: The amount of alcohol in a person's body is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. This is called the blood alcohol concentration, or "BAC."

Alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and the small intestine, goes into the bloodstream, and travels throughout the body and to the brain.

Alcohol is quickly absorbed and can be measured within 30 to 70 minutes after a person has had a drink.


Q: Does the type of alcohol I drink affect my BAC?

A: No! Alcohol is alcohol.

Each of the following contain the same amount of alcohol


Q: What affects my BAC?

A: A person’s BAC depends on a number of factors:


Q: What about other medications or drugs?

A: Medications or drugs will not affect your BAC level. However, if you drink alcohol while taking certain medications, you may feel – and be – more impaired, which can affect your ability to perform driving-related tasks.


Q: When am I impaired?

A: Because of the numerous factors that affect BAC, it is very difficult to assess your own BAC or impairment. Though small amounts of alcohol affect one's brain and the ability to drive, people often swear they are "fine" after several drinks - but in fact, the failure to recognize alcohol impairment is often a symptom of impairment.

While the lower stages of alcohol impairment are undetectable to others, the drinker knows vaguely when the "buzz" begins. A person will likely be too impaired to drive before looking – or maybe even feeling – "drunk."


Q: How will I know I'm impaired, and why should I care?

A: Alcohol steadily decreases a person's ability to drive a motor vehicle safely. The more you drink, the greater the effect. As with BAC, the signs of impairment differ with the individual.

In single-vehicle crashes, the relative risk of a driver with BAC between .08 and .10 is at least 11 times greater than for drivers with a BAC of zero, and 52 times greater for young males. Further, many studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person's ability to drive.

Every State has passed a law making it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. A driver also can be arrested with a BAC below .08 when a law enforcement officer has probable cause, based on the driver's behavior.


Q: What can I do to stay safe when I plan on drinking?

A: If you plan on drinking, plan not to drive.

You should always: