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How does blood alcohol concentration affect driving?

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Posted on February 22, 2023

The more you drink, the higher your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) becomes. In addition to taking you over the legal limit and landing you in legal trouble should you get pulled over, an elevated BAC can also affect your driving ability.

The more alcohol you drink, the harder it will be to operate your vehicle in a reasonable and safe manner. Here is how different BAC levels impact driving.

.05% BAC

At this level, many drivers experience significant effects behind the wheel. You may find it harder to handle the steering wheel effectively as your coordination diminishes. Visual tracking of objects on the road will also become more challenging. If an emergency situation occurs, you may not be able to respond quickly.

.08% BAC

According to federal laws, .08% is the legal limit for driving. It can also seriously impact your ability behind the wheel. Because of impaired perception, you will be unable to judge situations effectively. Your concentration will also decrease, as will your short-term memory. The ability to control your rate of speed will also diminish.

.10% BAC

By this point, most drivers experience major effects from alcohol. In the event you must brake suddenly, you may not be able to do so in time. Many inebriated drivers also find themselves incapable of maintaining their position in the lane of traffic, which can increase accident risk.

.15% BAC

Virtually all aspects of driving will decrease by this point. You will have trouble interpreting information in a meaningful way. You will also have a much harder time making decisions and responding in a timely manner, which can easily lead to a crash.

Drunk driving is a major legal issue, but it can also cause serious injuries to yourself and others. By understanding how it impacts your driving ability, you can make smarter decisions before getting behind the wheel.