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BAC - Blood Alcohol Concentration

Food and Blood Alcohol Levels

If you've got a big night of drinking planned, it's wise not to go out with your tummy grumbling. Partying can be fun but be responsible (especially if you are driving). Many people know that, in most states, a person with a blood alcohol level that exceeds .08% is eligible for a DUI if pulled over. Most people do not know, however, that there are many factors that can increase your blood alcohol content, regardless of how much you drink.

Food in your stomach will absorb alcohol. Therefore, if you do not eat before or during drinking your blood alcohol level will be heightened, regardless of how little or much you drink.


What Are You Drinking?

Did you know there are online blood alcohol calculators that can help you determine your possible impairment levels before you take a single drink? One such calculator, supplied by the University of Oklahoma Police Department offers a blood alcohol level calculator based on weight, hours spend drinking, and type of drink consumed. The results may surprise you!

The calculator is just a rough guide to your blood alcohol level, and doesn't take into account meals, fatigue and other conditions. The calculator can be an excellent guide as to what to expect when drinking over time, and is especially helpful for those not used to alcohol and its effects.


Hypoglycemia and DUIs

Some who get pulled over on a DUI stop are well under the legal blood alcohol content limit, but some medical conditions can cause slow reaction times and unsteady driving that is mistaken for driving under the influence. Hypoglycemia is one such medical condition. Symptoms include abnormally low blood sugar levels, which can starve the brain of glucose, slowing those critical reaction times. People who suffer from this problem must regulate their food intake more closely than others. When alcohol is consumed, conditions are right in some cases for a flare-up of low blood sugar problems.

Symptoms of abnormally low blood sugar can mimic those of intoxication, and some hypoglycemic people have been falsely charged with DUI because of their condition. You can be well under the legal limit for blood alcohol content and still get pulled over if your symptoms are strong enough. It's important to remember that alcohol will cause low blood sugar for hypoglycemic people if they haven't eaten properly before drinking. Don't risk a false accusation.


Field Sobriety Testing

Those who get pulled over on a DUI stop are often asked to perform a field sobriety test to determine whether or not the driver is intoxicated. Those asked to perform such tests should know the tests are not scientific measurements of blood alcohol concentration.

Remember that you are not required to do these field tests, but keep in mind that if you refuse the field sobriety test, you may have your blood alcohol levels tested at some point. This may include a trip to the police station and an extended period there while the test is prepared and administered.


How Your Blood Alcohol Level is Measured

The most common system for measuring and reporting a person's blood alcohol level is calculated using the weight of alcohol in milligrams and the volume of blood in deciliters (this yields a blood alcohol concentration that can be expressed as a percentage). This system of determining blood alcohol level is the one prescribed by almost every state.

The tool used by the authorities to determine blood alcohol level is called a "breathalyzer". Few patrol cars are equipped with these tools so often times secondary officers or specialists are brought in to administer the test and determine your blood alcohol level.


What is the Difference Between a Field Sobriety Test and a Breath Test?

Field sobriety testing involves silly exercises that test your motor skills. Touching your nose and walking in a straight line are just two examples however, you are not always required to take a field sobriety test! A breath test, on the other hand, is not an option.

Every state has the "implied consent" law when it comes to the use of a blood alcohol calculator, tester, or other method of determining your blood alcohol concentration. By owning and driving a car, you have given your consent to the tests. Asking for a fully calibrated machine, a blood test, or other means of insuring accuracy is not a bad idea since you, the driver, have no idea whether or not the machine is set properly or operated by someone properly trained to use it.


Different States - Different Legal Blood Alcohol Levels

Even though drunk driving has similar results no matter where it happens, your location can play a large part in your legal blood alcohol level. Each state mandates its own legal levels of blood alcohol concentration. These range greatly.

If you will be traveling and may be presented with a situation that could lead to possible drinking, make sure you know local limits. It is always best to not drink at all before driving. However, it never hurts to know the legal blood alcohol level where you will be driving.


How to Calculate Blood Alcohol Level

The scientific way of calculating blood alcohol levels is simple; you take the proportion of alcohol to blood and that is your blood alcohol concentration. Most people will only experience their blood alcohol being tested in the worst of circumstances. However, the science is universal and therefore there are many resources now available that allow individuals to calculate their own blood alcohol level.


The Breathalyzer Test and Accuracy

One of the main reasons a good DUI lawyer will contest the results of a breathalyzer test in court is because there are many things that can cause a false positive when breathing into the machine. For example, if you are pulled over and given a breath test to check your blood alcohol level after having brushed your teeth, you could very well give a false reading.

If your DUI lawyer is going to contest the breath test in court, try to remember exactly what you ate, drank, gargled with, etc. before the test. Remember that some medications such as oral contraception also can call into question your test results. Tell your lawyer all this information for maximum ammunition in court!


Can I Request a Blood Test?

You may be entitled to request a blood test in place of a breath test in order to determine your blood alcohol concentration, but remember that the blood test is an exact measurement of what substances are in your bloodstream. If you have prescription or over the counter medication in your system, for example, you may still be charged with driving under the influence if you are found to be in violation of the local laws. The main idea behind the DUI stop is to catch drivers who are impaired in some way by drugs or alcohol. If you are unsure whether your medication or recreational activities leave you in violation of local laws, it's best to call for a taxi. A blood alcohol test is a very good idea for those who are certain they are not in violation of the law. It can clear the accusations up once and for all if the test is administered and recorded properly.


Don't Be Fooled By Wine Coolers

Some bartenders call them "wine foolers," and with good reason. Tough-guy drinkers mock the wine cooler, but according to some sources, the "wimpy" wine cooler is more powerful than beer per ounce by 1.5 percent! If you are concerned about your blood alcohol concentration, don't fool yourself into thinking the wine cooler is a better option for you.

Your best bet? Control your drinking and enjoy responsibly.


Blood Alcohol Concentration-A Tricky Science

A variety of factors are at work where alcohol is concerned and when determining your blood alcohol concentration level. Your gender, weight, and even how quickly you consume the alcohol all play a part in the equation.

The best time to tackle your blood alcohol concentration is before drinking begins. An empty stomach means a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood, regardless of the drink. If you are concerned with your blood alcohol level, decide before you drink what and how you will consume and stay in control of your consumption.


When to Use Your Portable Breathalyzer

Many people think the best time to check their blood alcohol concentration with a portable breath tester is right before the drive home. A better use of the portable breathalyzer? Using it to check blood alcohol levels all through an evening of alcohol consumption. This can let you know when you are approaching the legal limit and help you back off to avoid a risky situation later. It can also help people to become more self-aware about their own limits with alcohol. How many times have you gone too far and spoiled your evening of fun with one drink too many? A portable test of your blood alcohol levels can assist you in knowing when to say "when".