Factors That Affect a Person’s Blood Alcohol Level
Last updated Tuesday, November 14th, 2023
How to Enjoy Your Drinks Without Breaking the Law
Everyone has their own idea of drinking responsibly. If people could genuinely do that, there wouldn’t be so many accidents caused by alcohol intoxication every year. Since it’s hard to tell how intoxicated you are by simply observing you, there needs to be a concrete way to determine it.
There’s no room for speculation when it comes to following the law. That’s why legal and medical experts established blood alcohol content (BAC) as a benchmark to identify impaired drinkers.
BAC measures how much alcohol is circulating in your bloodstream. It is calculated in terms of weight (milligrams) per unit of volume (milliliters). Police authorities often use breathalyzers on drunk drivers or subject them to medical tests to detect their BAC levels.
Texas and most of the U.S. follow a 0.08 BAC legal limit for alcohol intoxication. 0.08 grams of alcohol in 100 mL is 0.08%.
If you’re caught behind the wheel with a 0.08 or higher BAC, you could be charged with a DUI.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the factors influencing your BAC levels and the importance of staying under the legal limit.
Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Here are the key factors that influence blood alcohol concentration (BAC):
- Weight – Your ability to process alcohol efficiently has a lot to do with your weight. The greater your body water percentage, the faster the blood alcohol levels will get diluted. So people with higher body weight are able to slow down the rise in their BAC levels. They generally have a higher alcohol tolerance than other people.
- Number of drinks – The quantity of drinks you have is the most obvious indication of your intoxication. People who indulge in long drinking sessions in bars often forget how many drinks they have back-to-back. The body isn’t able to dilute alcohol or metabolize it efficiently after a point. You’re overloading your liver beyond its capacity. This leads to a steady rise in your BAC levels as you keep drinking.
- Type of alcohol – Your choice of drink also affects your BAC levels. Beers and wines have a lower alcohol percentage compared to whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, and other liquors. A few shots of vodka can intoxicate you far more than two cans of beer.
- Age – Your ability to process and recover from alcohol consumption goes down as you age. Your liver isn’t able to regenerate easily after a point. It takes a lot longer to metabolize the same amount of alcohol you had in your early 20s. You also end up losing muscle mass and body water percentage as you grow old. They are replaced by higher body fat. So your ability to dilute blood alcohol levels takes a hit too.
- Gender – Women have lower body water content than men. Their blood gets concentrated with higher BAC levels faster. They also have lesser Alcohol Dehydrogenase in their stomach linings. This is a key enzyme needed to metabolize alcohol. Fluctuating estrogen levels can also slow down the alcohol processing and elimination.
- Eating a meal – When you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, it quickly permeates through your stomach and intestine lining to flood your bloodstream. So it can lead to a fast-forwarded intoxication. It’s recommended to drink after eating a meal. The food will block your stomach walls from direct contact with the alcohol. The alcohol will slowly permeate through the walls, leading to a more controlled intoxication.
DUI Consequences in Texas
Texas has over 25,000 drunk driving collisions every year. The Lone Star state takes road safety very seriously. It has established strict laws to punish any drunk driver, including intoxicated underage drivers.
If you’re operating a car with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, you can be charged with a DUI (driving under the influence).
What are the penalties for a DUI? It depends on the number of offenses you’ve committed.
For instance, the first offense could lead to a fine of up to $2,000, three to 180 days of jail time, and a license suspension for one year.
You may be forced to pay a fine of up to $4,000 for the second offense. You may also face jail time ranging from one month to one year, and face a license suspension for two years.
For the third offense, you can face a $10,000 fine, jail time of two to ten years, and license suspension of up to two years.
You can also be charged with child endangerment if you were driving with a child under the age of 15. It could lead to an additional fine of up to $10,000, jail time of up to two years, and increasing your license suspension for another 180 days.
Here are some more consequences of a DUI arrest you may have to deal with:
- Attending court-mandated alcohol awareness programs
- Getting an ignition interlock device installed in your car to allow you to start it only if your BAC levels are below 0.02 percent.
- Community service to help you connect with your duty of care to fellow citizens
Importance of a Dram Shop Lawyer in Texas
Texas has laws to control the safe consumption and service of alcohol. Most people forget about the accountability of the establishments that serve alcohol irresponsibly in DUI cases.
Any establishment that serves or sells alcohol is known as a dram shop, including:
- Bars and restaurants
- Liquor stores
- Convenience stores
Texas Dram Shop laws allow you to hold any establishment that irresponsibly served alcohol to the driver at fault liable for your damages. The establishment staff owes a duty of care to the patrons to restrict serving alcohol if they are obviously intoxicated. Continuing to serve someone with impaired judgment is taking advantage of them.
So when they step out and endanger other lives, it’s important to dig into the details of their drinking session. At Wyly & Cook, our skillful Texas dram shop lawyers will protect your rights in DUI cases and maximize your compensation for the damages you suffered. We’ll ensure all the liable parties face justice and you get the settlement you deserve.
You can seek the same types of damages from dram shops as your personal injury claim. It could include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and any other losses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What factors influence my BAC levels after drinking?
Here are the main factors that influence your BAC levels after drinking:
- Body weight
- Number of drinks
- Type of alcohol
- Food consumption
How does body weight affect BAC?
Individuals with a higher body weight are able to slow down the rise of their BAC levels. Your body water helps dilute the alcohol levels flowing through your bloodstream. The higher your body water percentage, the faster the alcohol will be diluted. So it will take longer for that person to reach a point of severe intoxication.
What are the legal consequences of a DUI arrest in Texas?
Here are the main consequences of a DUI arrest in Texas that you may have to take on:
- Paying a fine
- Serving prison time
- Getting your driving license suspended
- Participating in court-mandated alcohol awareness programs
- Installing an ignition interlock device in your car
- Community service
How can I get my driver's license back after a DUI in Texas?
You can appeal the court’s decision to suspend your driving license after a DUI with the help of a lawyer. If you win, you can get your license back. However, you’ll have to accept the suspension until then. If you fail, you’ll have to wait till the court-imposed penalties have been served.
You can file a petition with the Texas DPS to get your license back after this period. It usually takes two to three months to process your request. You’ll also have to pay a reinstatement fee. Your DUI lawyer will fast-track this process so that you can get back on the road as soon as possible.
What is the purpose of an Ignition Interlock device?
An ignition interlock device is like a modified breathalyzer that activates your car ignition. It is meant to monitor your BAC levels every time you drive and prevent you from driving if you fail the test. Your BAC level needs to be below 0.02 percent to start the car.
Just like a standard breathalyzer, you’ll have to blow into the device’s mouthpiece. It will automatically detect your BAC levels and start the car if they are below this limit.
How can a dram shop lawyer help me after a drunk driving accident in Texas?
Here’s how a dram shop lawyer can help you after a drunk driving accident in Texas:
- Create a better legal strategy using specialized knowledge of Texas Dram Shop Laws and case precedents
- Gathering evidence from multiple sources to establish what led to the accident
- Identifying all liable parties at the alcohol-serving establishment, and establishing their degree of liability
- Creating new avenues of compensation for you to maximize your settlement
- Negotiating with multiple insurers and lawyers to ensure you get what you deserve