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What not to do when gauging your BAC

Understanding your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is important to be able to do when you’ve been drinking. If you drink to the point of inebriation in the eyes of the law—BAC of 0.08 percent or higher—then you could face stiff penalties if you get behind the wheel.

If you’re moderately over the limit—classified as “general impairment” and you’re a first-time offender, you could be put on probation for up to six months, be fined $300 and be sentenced to attend highway safety school and alcohol treatment. For subsequent infractions—or infractions where your impairment was more compromised—the penalties become far steeper. In addition, if you get into an accident and injure—or kill—someone while driving drunk, you could face criminal charges.

Many people believe they can tell when they are over the legal limit. However, some common methods of making this determination are faulty. In this article, we present three common misunderstandings about your alcohol limits:

I can handle more drinks because I’m a guy.

Often times, men can tolerate more alcohol than women, but this trend is based on height and weight—not gender. If you’re a short, slim man, your tolerance will typically be lower than that of a tall, heavy man.

Two drinks can’t get me drunk.

You may believe that if you limit yourself to two drinks, it’s guaranteed you’ll be sober enough to drive. However, it’s not just the number of drinks that’s important; it’s also the potency of the drink and the speed of consumption. If you drink two shots of vodka—which has a high alcohol concentration—in quick succession, it will affect you differently than sipping two beers—which have a comparatively low alcohol concentration—over the course of a night.

I’ve drunk this much before, and I was fine.

Maybe last year you went to a party, had four drinks, and drove home feeling totally sober. You shouldn’t then use this experience as a standard for future drinking. Alcohol affects each person differently based on the day. Myriad factors can make you more susceptible to inebriation, such as:

  • If you’re fatigued or stressed
  • If you’re taking prescription medications
  • If you haven’t had much to eat that day
  • If you’re in a high altitude

In summary, you may not always be able to accurately gauge whether you’re over the legal drinking limit to drive, and the consequences of being caught driving under the influence aren’t worth the risk. A good rule of thumb is to always get a sober driver to take you home anytime you’ve been drinking.

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