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How alcohol impacts driving at different BAC levels

From your first drink, alcohol can impact your ability to drive. It gets more pronounced the more you have, which is why there is a legal limit of 0.08%. But it can have an impact below that, and it's also important to understand how your ability changes the farther over the limit you go.

Now, everyone is different. Some people handle their alcohol better than others. Those who drink more often may function at a higher level even with a higher BAC. People also reach those higher BAC numbers after different amounts of drinks. For instance, a 250-pound man would not see the same increase as a 90-pound woman after taking a shot.

Still, no matter how much alcohol it takes to increase your BAC, you can expect to see these changes:

  • At 0.02%, you will feel relaxed and warm. You may have more trouble watching something that is moving or paying attention for a long stretch of time.
  • At 0.05%, you start to see an impact on your judgment. You will feel good, but your reaction time may slow. Your response times and coordination see some negative changes, as well. The issues from above, such as tracking moving objects, just get worse.
  • At 0.08%, which is what most people think of as legally drunk, you start to see issues with balance and self-control. You may struggle to remember things and have a decline in ability to make reasonable choices. Operating a complex vehicle becomes difficult. You may struggle with speed control and depth perception.
  • At 0.10%, everything really starts slowing down. Your thinking even slows. You slur your words. While driving, you may not hit the brakes when you need to and you could struggle with the basics, like staying in your lane.
  • At 0.15%, you have hit the level where you likely cannot remember it the next day. You may throw up and feel sick. Muscle control disappears almost entirely. You often can't pay attention to the road at all. You cannot process what is happening around you -- what you see and hear.

As you can see, things deteriorate fairly quickly. Even at the legal limit, you could suffer from impairment. If you go over it even a little, police officers likely will not have a hard time realizing that you are driving under the influence.

After an arrest, you really need to know your legal options. A DUI is expensive. It can cost you your job. It can really impact your future. You must know what steps you can take to put this behind you and focus on a positive future.

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