Understanding the Legal Limits of Blood Alcohol Concentration
Roughly 30 people die every day as a result of drunk driving, and this makes up one-third of all car crash-related deaths. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that every state enforces strict punishments on people convicted of drunk driving. States are all the more justified in doing this when you consider the cost of drunk driving-related damages, which is around $44 billion on an annual basis.
How Does Being Drunk Affect Your Driving?
In a general sense, being drunk lowers your reflexes and impairs your ability to react to what’s happening on the road. That being said, the drunker you are, the less you’ll be fit to operate a motor vehicle, something which can be assessed through your blood alcohol concentration. This is what a police officer measures when they ask you to blow in a breathalyzer.
In an attempt to help educate the public, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has outlined what happens to drivers at various degrees of intoxication. Consider the following.
At a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent:
At this level, you will feel relaxed as your body begins to warm up and your mood changes. Additionally, your vision might begin to get affected, especially your ability to keep your eyes on a quickly moving target. Furthermore, you will be unable to multitask with the same efficiency you could when you were sober. As a result, you will not be able to make the soundest of decisions when behind the wheel.
At a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent:
At this level, you might begin to feel good, and it will show on your exaggerated behavior. Moreover, you won’t be able to control your small muscles as well as you’re used to. Since both your alertness and inhibitions will decrease, you will have a harder time steering the vehicle. Your coordination will take a hit, making you ill-equipped to handle unexpected emergencies.
At a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent:
At this level, your muscle coordination plummets. Your balance, hearing, and reaction time will all be adversely affected as well. What’s more, your speech will be slurred and your vision a bit blurry. This is not to mention the mental and behavioral changes you’ll go through, including impaired judgment and faulty short-term memory. Therefore, you won’t be able to process information in the way that you need to for driving, making the possibility of a car crash significantly higher.
At a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent:
At this level, your reaction time and control will take a nosedive. Your ability to coordinate your muscles and actions will be so impaired that you’ll find it difficult to stay in your lane, let alone use the brakes when the situation demands it.
At a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent:
At this level, you may actually begin to feel physically sick. Obviously, if you drive while being this drunk, you’ll be a hazard for anyone else sharing the road with you.
So, Where Do States Draw the Line?
In an attempt to preserve the lives of its citizens, 49 of the states in the U.S. have set the legal degree of intoxication at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent in legal adults. Furthermore, any alcohol in the blood of a minor, an individual under the age of 21, is illegal. The common belief here is that a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 is a good enough cutoff point after which the probability of an accident increases drastically.
Nevertheless, accidents do happen at lower alcohol levels. As a matter of fact, there were more than 2,000 fatalities in 2016 due to drivers who had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.07 or below. This is why some states are considering moving the legal limit down to 0.05. In fact, Utah already made this move in 2019.
Obviously, being charged with a DUI is a serious matter. If you or someone you know would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact the office of Denis Driscoll at (973) 585-6982 for a free consultation. Additionally, you can come visit our law office in Parsippany, NJ.