If you've been reading up on drunk driving and laws about driving under the influence (DUI), then you've come across the phrase “blood alcohol content,” often abbreviated as BAC. There's no way you can get very far without coming across the term, because it's the baseline for DUI laws across the country: The level of alcohol in your blood is used to determine if you are considered too intoxicated to drive, in the eyes of the law. However, you might still be wondering what, exactly, BAC is, and how it could possibly be a magical talisman for figuring out if someone's drunk, or not.
Your blood alcohol content, or BAC, is nothing more than the amount of your blood that is actually alcohol.
When you drink something that has alcohol in it, the liquid, including the alcohol, goes into your stomach and, after passing through your stomach, gets into your small intestine. The alcohol gets absorbed by your blood, through the walls of both your intestine and stomach, as it flows throughout your body. It cycles from your heart and other organs, where it picks up all sorts of nutrients and other chemicals, to your muscles and brain, where it drops off what it's carrying and returns to the heart, once again.
Because the blood can only absorb a certain rate of alcohol while passing through your body, the amount of alcohol that has gotten absorbed into your blood is a good indication of how much alcohol there is in your stomach and small intestine, which, in turn, shows how much alcohol you've ingested recently.
This sounds all scientific, and seems like it makes BAC a perfect indication of whether someone's drunk and should not be driving. However, it only works in theory. In practice, BAC is imperfect, prone to inaccuracies, and is merely an estimate.
We all know that different people act differently when they're drunk. This is hardly news to anyone that has been to a bar after 11pm. This common sense knowledge, however, makes using BAC as the legal standard for intoxication almost laughable. One person could be hopelessly drunk at 0.08 BAC, the legal limit for driving, while another person could be completely sober.
The reality is that BAC is not a magical number. Having a 0.079 BAC does not make you sober, and taking one more sip of beer at that point does not automatically make you stupid drunk. Instead, BAC is a convenience for law enforcement. They've attached significance to it because it's much easier to come up with a number like 0.08 and say that's the legal limit, and that being over it means you're drunk, than it is to try to prove that you were under the influence of alcohol on a case-by-case basis.
If you've been charged with DUI, call attorney Kevin Trombold at 206-971-0067. His extensive knowledge about all the facets of DUI law has given him a reputation as one of the best DUI defense attorneys in the Seattle area