By: William C. Head, Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta GA and ABA Board-Certified DUI Attorney
Most people who drink alcohol and drive never check a blood alcohol content chart or check an online BAC calculator when drinking to know their legal alcohol limit. Many people erroneously think that they can judge being “over the limit” by how they feel. That misjudgment is why DUI attorneys have such a lucrative business in the field of criminal defense.
However, the legally permissible BAC levels (across America) have been lowered to half of what was permitted 50 years ago, and two or three drinks can put some adult drinkers at a number that is above the legal alcohol limit when the alcoholic beverages are consumed rapidly (i.e., in 45 to 75 minutes). In addition, coming in contact with a law enforcement officer at a traffic pullover or DUI checkpoint can quickly turn into a DUI-DWI arrest. Police today are trained to “err on the side of public safety” and take you off the road by arrest or other means.
When pulled over or stopped by police at a sobriety checkpoint, people who are suspected of driving drunk will be read an implied consent notice that requires the arrested person to submit to a DUI test of breath alcohol, blood alcohol, or urine alcohol. These tests are designed to determine your blood alcohol content levels at the time of the test.
If arrested for driving under the influence, refusal to submit to the official state sobriety test (alcohol breath test is the most common type of legal BAC test) will suspend or revoke the person’s driver’s license under implied consent laws in that state. In about a dozen states (e.g., Hawaii, Wisconsin, Minnesota) a DUI refusal may also require jail time for refusing to submit to a state sobriety test under implied consent statutes. These statutes call for an arrested drunk driver to allow police to check the already-arrested driver’s BAC levels to see what the BAC level might be. A DWI-DUI “refusal” can lead to TOTAL license suspension or revocation (i.e., no work permit allowed), plus a fine plus jail time, or all three, in some states.
The acronym BAC can apply to several different things. For example, this 3-letter acronym is the stock market abbreviation for Bank of America. But, in the field of drunk driving, BAC refers to the “blood alcohol content” or “blood alcohol concentration” of a person when driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Police arrest drinking drivers and read a legal notice called “implied consent.” Now, you will ask, “What is implied consent?”
This notice is a form of legal coercion that compels a detained citizen to either agree to take the requested test, or refuse and then face license suspension for a full year, plus other state-imposed sanctions. The United States Supreme Court has found no issue with a state tying driving privileges to an implied consent warning, and permitting states to decide how much state prison time or jail time should be given to a person who refuses to take the post-arrest driving under the influence test offered (usually with a breath alcohol test). Birchfield v. North Dakota, in 2016.
If you do cooperate, the police will use your legal blood alcohol level to try to convict you of a NEW type of driving under the influence, DUI-alcohol per se or “driving with a legal alcohol limit” in excess of the amount permitted by State law.
This article is about the traffic safety aspects of knowing your blood alcohol content level before starting to drink alcohol, knowing that you will later have to drive a motor vehicle at some point afterward, and (if arrested for drunken driving) reveal your blood alcohol level. The BAC chart below is a handy blood alcohol level chart for the drinking driver to be able to estimate an approximate BAC.
The legal alcohol limit in ALL fifty states and the District of Columbia for all adult drivers age 21 and over is 0.08% grams percent. The legal BAC level for underage DUI varies slightly across America, from 0.00 grams percent to 0.02 grams percent. The alcohol legal limit for any motorist younger than age 21 who is behind the wheel and underage drinking is zero tolerance.
Only 15 states currently use 0.00 grams percent BAC for their state’s motorists underage drinking BAC level. So, a zero tolerance law may not really be “ZERO.”
Instead of all 50 states and DC being 0.00 grams percent, most state DUI laws have left either a 0.01 gr % or 0.02 gr % BAC levels for underage drivers, simply because their breathalyzer that is used to take a breath alcohol test in those states has up to a 0.02 “margin of error.”
These states acknowledge this margin of error by writing their DWI-DUI law to accommodate a very low legal blood alcohol level for the underage legal drinking limit.
Finally, all states define a special legal limit for drivers of a (CMV) commercial motor vehicle, which does not only mean drivers of tractor-trailer rigs. School buses or any transport van that has seats for 16 or more people are typically a CMV (commercial motor vehicle). These are high-risk vehicles with an impaired driver behind the wheel, due to size and weight or due to exposure of faultless passengers to the potential for multiple injuries or fatalities. Harsh and punitive statutes have been passed in many states dealing with CMV laws.
Federal laws controlling interstate commerce have mandated that all states place a legal BAC alcohol limit for CMV drivers at 0.04%, when driving such a commercial vehicle. This applies to any commercial driver’s license holder, regardless of age.
These drivers are not held to that lower BAC level if they are operating a non-commercial vehicle. In these situations, the legal blood alcohol content is determined by age of the driver. Plus, federal law dictates that a CMV operator found with ANY trace of alcohol on his or her breath will have that vehicle taken off the road for the next 24 hours.
The simple, easy-to-follow BAC calculator below shows your estimated legal BAC by weight, based upon a known amount of alcohol intake. A typical male drinker at the identical body weight as a typical female drinker will not reach a high BAC as quickly as his female counterpart.
Thus, scientists usually break down their BAC charts to a BAC chart male, and a BAC chart female. The blood alcohol content chart below is the average height and weight male drinker and gives an estimated BAC chart for such drinkers.
Women using this blood alcohol chart should UNDERESTIMATE by at least 10% from these numbers, to be safe. Plus, this BAC calculator grid does not take into account the benefit of eating before and during alcohol consumption.
Other than the male-female gender bias stated above, four factors primarily affect BAC levels:
In a general sense, your legal blood alcohol level is controlled by the number of drinks consumed in relation to your body weight. The blood alcohol level chart will show you the approximate BAC level after one drink. Here is how to estimate your blood alcohol content using our drunk calculator:
Complete the fields below and click on “Calculate BAC”
If arrested for driving under the influence and being above your permissible legal blood alcohol level, you definitely need a top DUI lawyer. Not all lawyer ratings are the same, but we invite you to COMPARE our legal industry credentials to ANY other DUI law firms. William C. “Bubba” Head, Larry Kohn, and Cory Yager are ready and trained to help you win your case. Their law office focus is on how to beat a DUI in court.
High BAC levels obtained at the time of your DUI arrest can look hopeless. However, if a pre-trial suppression motion results in the exclusion of those blood alcohol content “numbers,” then we can help most people avoid DUI convictions by successfully excluding the state’s forensic breathalyzer or blood alcohol test results!
After being arrested for DUI in Georgia, the first thing to do it identify an expert on Georgia DUI law through top attorney ratings. Look at who is BEHIND the law firm, review each of the trial lawyers’ credentials, and check out the criminal defense attorney who leads the law office. Every experienced DUI lawyer in the law firm must have full command of DUI laws and possess training in all aspects of successfully challenging the driving under the influence criminal case.
This successful defense record must include suppressing breath alcohol tests, and knowing every prior appellate decision on the Georgia implied consent law. An increasing number of drugged driving cases require that our criminal defense lawyers know how to challenge a GBI blood alcohol or drugs test. Being an INSTRUCTOR in the three NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) is also necessary.
The best DUI attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia will offer you a FREE consultation, explain how their criminal attorneys search for a successful defense in your case, and aggressively represent clients to the maximum extent the law allows. Limit your search to DUI lawyers who have legitimate lawyer ratings and a history of proven results on knowing how to beat a DUI. If we are the criminal defense attorneys for you, ask us about our attorney payment plans.
Call our DUI defense lawyers NOW, 24-7, for an initial case review and FREE legal advice: 404-567-5515, or email our criminal justice attorneys.