The Legal Limit for Alcohol in Texas
Last updated Monday, October 16th, 2023
How to Drink Responsibly in Texas
Alcohol in moderate doses can help you unwind from the stress of your obligations. But taking a break from your obligations is no excuse to drink excessively and abandon your duties. You owe everyone a duty to act responsibly in public spaces to avoid endangering lives. A car doesn’t remain just a vehicle with a drunk driver behind the wheel; it becomes a weapon.
Drunk driving kills one person every 39 minutes in America. It accounts for nearly 31 percent of all car crash fatalities. So whether you’re drinking to celebrate or to forget a bad day, it’s important to know the legal limits for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
The Health Benefits of Moderate Drinking
It’s not easy to keep up with the high-paced, high-stress hustle culture in this age. People are striving to let off some steam in a quick way to end their day. And an occasional glass of wine or whiskey is probably the most effortless way to do it.
Several studies have backed up that moderate drinking can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can raise your good cholesterol and lift your mood. However, alcohol dependency is an unhealthy way to decompress. Moderation is not just about how much alcohol you consume in one go, but how often you consume it.
Defining Moderate Drinking
Every drinker has their own idea about moderation. Even the ones who get into drunk driving accidents argue that they didn’t have too much. So it’s important to listen to the experts studying diet and intoxicant effects to define what’s moderate or excessive.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defined moderate drinking as:
- No more than two drinks per day for men
- No more than one drink per day for women
Different beverages have different alcohol percentages. So the definition of a “proper drink” is subject to the type of alcohol you’re drinking. You won’t get the same level of intoxication drinking one glass of wine and one glass of whiskey.
A standard drink is defined as containing 14 grams (0.6 fluid ounces) of pure alcohol.
You can consume this amount in:
- 12 ounces of regular beer (five percent alcohol)
- 5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol)
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol)
The Dangers of Drinking and Driving
Alcohol can impair your cognitive faculties, blur your vision, and sabotage your physical coordination skills. You need all these skills to safely drive a vehicle.
What makes it exceptionally dangerous is that it can make you too impaired to recognize this danger. It can inject you with false confidence and brashness. You feel driven to act on your impulses rather than depend on your senses. There have been cases of drunk drivers killing people in an accident and still not recognizing what went wrong.
Over 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents in the US. All it takes is a few sips too much to set off the chain reaction of disasters. You could suffer a fatal injury or kill someone else. You can end up facing criminal charges and lose everything you’ve worked for in life overnight.
Legal BAC Limits in Texas and Nationwide
The number of drinks you have and the rate at which you consume them determine how intoxicated you get. It also depends on your body type and general tolerance to alcohol.
It’s hard to determine how intoxicated someone is about to get just by seeing the volume of liquid in their drink. Alcohol goes from your intestines to your bloodstream quickly where its concentration builds up until your liver metabolizes it. The most reliable way to measure intoxication is to measure the weight of alcohol in a certain volume of blood.
Most American states including Texas follow a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (g/dL) of blood. You are considered to be legally intoxicated and unfit for driving if you cross this limit. The police use a simple breathalyzer test after pulling you over to detect your BAC levels.
Factors Influencing BAC Levels
Here are some important general factors that will influence your BAC levels:
- Body weight
- Type of drink
- Drinking speed
- Food consumption
Gender and BAC
You may have noticed women get drunk a lot faster than men if they have the same kind of drink in the same period. The average body water content of women is lower than men. So the BAC levels get more concentrated in their bodies faster. The higher body water content of men can dilute the alcohol levels more.
Women also have lesser Alcohol Dehydrogenase in their stomach linings compared to men. So they aren’t able to metabolize the alcohol as efficiently as men. Additionally, fluctuations in estrogen levels can also contribute to higher BAC levels.
The Role of Food in Alcohol Absorption
Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is always risky because of how quickly your BAC levels can go out of control. There’s a reason why most moderate drinkers have their glass of wine AFTER dinner.
But let’s understand what happens to alcohol in your body when you drink it. Part of it is absorbed directly by the tongue and mucosal lining in your mouth. The rest of it goes to your stomach and intestines, which pass it to your bloodstream through the tissue lining.
When there’s food in your stomach, it blocks the tissue lining near the walls. It gives limited space for the alcohol to reach your bloodstream. Food can also obstruct alcohol’s access to your small intestines, which further prevents its easy access to your bloodstream.
Beyond BAC Charts: Individual Factors
We’ve covered the general factors that influence BAC levels so far. But you must’ve noticed how everyone reacts to alcohol uniquely. It depends on an individual’s body constitution and lifestyle choices.
Here are some individual factors that can influence BAC levels differently:
- Medication use
- Personal tolerance
What to Do When Pulled Over for Drunk Driving
About to get pulled over on the road after downing a few drinks? Don’t panic!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you handle this situation smoothly:
- Use your turn signal to pull over calmly in a safe spot
- Remain in your car with your hands on the wheel until the officer approaches you
- Be as polite and cooperative as you can while interacting with them
- Do not admit to drinking
- Do not submit to any breath, blood, or urine tests
- Do not comply with any field sobriety tests
- Don’t make any statement while being arrested or held in custody
- Contact a skilled DUI lawyer to protect your rights
The Role of Dram Shop Lawyers
Drunk driving cases can get ugly because they can involve criminal charges. Proving liability can be complicated too because there could be multiple parties involved. The employees of the bar or restaurant that served alcohol to the drunk driver could be held liable too. But it’s hard to handle these legal issues without the help of a skillful Texas dram shop lawyer.
At Wyly & Cook, we will ensure your rights are protected and you’re fully compensated for the damages you suffer. Call us today for a free consultation with our reputed Texas dram shop lawyers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the potential health benefits of moderate drinking?
Most people who enjoy moderate drinking use it as a social lubricant or quick stress relief mechanism. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can raise the good cholesterol in your body.
How is moderate drinking defined, and does it vary by gender?
Moderate drinking sets a limit of two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A standard drink contains 14 grams (0.6 fluid ounces) of pure alcohol.
What are the legal consequences of drinking and driving?
If you’re legally intoxicated with a BAC limit over 0.08 g/dL, you can be charged with a DUI.
You could face the following legal consequences in a DUI charge:
- Heavy fines
- Jail time
- License suspension
What is the legal BAC limit in Texas and the rest of the U.S.?
Texas and the rest of the U.S. follows a legal BAC limit of 0.08 g/dL.
What factors can influence an individual's BAC levels?
Here are the common factors that can affect your BAC levels:
- Body weight
- Type of drink
- Drinking speed
- Food consumption
Why do women reach the legal BAC limit faster than men?
Here are the main factors that play a role in women crossing their legal BAC limit faster than men:
- Women have a lower percentage of body water compared to men. Higher body water content helps dilute alcohol concentration better. So the BAC levels accumulate much faster in women’s bodies.
- Women have lesser Alcohol Dehydrogenase in their stomach linings compared to men. It weakens their ability to metabolize the alcohol while men can do it at a faster pace.
- Fluctuations in estrogen levels due to menstrual cycles or medication can also lead to higher BAC levels.
How does food intake affect alcohol absorption?
Food intake blocks your stomach and intestine lining from direct exposure to alcohol when you drink it. It prevents the alcohol from being rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. So food can help counter the intoxication process.
Can individual factors make BAC levels different from what the charts suggest?
Yes. Individual factors like your metabolism, alcohol tolerance, and medication consumption can influence your BAC levels too.
What should I do if I get pulled over for drunk driving?
Here are the steps you should follow if you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving:
- Find a safe spot to pull over your car
- Wait in the car until the officer approaches you
- Interact politely with the officer
- Do not engage in any discussion about drinking
- Don’t comply with any tests
- Avoid making any statements without consulting your lawyer first
How can Dram Shop lawyers assist in drunk driving accident cases?
Dram shop lawyers allow you to hold all parties involved in your drunk driving accident liable for your injuries and losses.
If an establishment irresponsibly served the driver at fault, you can legally take action against them too. A skillful Texas dram shop lawyer will protect your rights and maximize your compensation.