Heading out for happy hour with friends, enjoying your favorite music at a local club and social gatherings are common events that may occur before a traffic stop. Some drivers are surprised when, after only a couple of drinks or so, their blood alcohol content level is at or above .08 percent -- the legal limit for driving. OWI charges in the Waukesha area are fairly common, and many people feel that they are okay to drive - later finding that they need an DUI defense lawyer.
It is no secret that alcohol effects people differently. The .08 per se legal limit essentially sets a universal threshold for adult drivers that prosecutors can rely on to pursue OWI charges (it is important to note that lower BAC standards apply to drivers under the age of 21 and for people who hold a commercial driver's license). But, there are many things that can influence BAC.
What factors affect blood alcohol concentration?
Obviously, the amount of alcohol consumed will impact a breath test. The more you drink, the higher your BAC level may be. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration notes several factors besides the number of drinks a person consumes that can lead to a higher BAC, such as:
- Drinking quickly -- the faster a person consumes alcohol will raise his or her BAC as the body eliminates alcohol from the system at a fairly steady rate and the body cannot keep up.
- Age -- As people age, they tend to retain less water in the cells, according to the National Institutes of Health. Water in the body dilutes the concentration of alcohol in the blood - less water means higher BAC.
- Gender -- The NHTSA says that women generally have less water in their cells as compared to men, leading to higher BAC levels.
- Weight -- Water also plays a role in BAC levels related to the weight of a person. Typically, as weight increases for men and women, there is more water present in the body.
- Food -- Food in the stomach generally slows the absorption of alcohol.
While other medications and supplements will not raise BAC levels, drug interactions can increase overall impairment. Prosecutors can bring OWI charges based on medications alone, or the combination of prescription drugs and alcohol regardless of actual alcohol levels in a person's system. It is best to have a designated driver or call a cab if you have to travel after drinking or while taking prescription medications.