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Understanding blood alcohol content and car accidents

What does the acronym BAC stand for when it comes to drunk driving? BAC is an acronym for blood alcohol content, which refers to the amount of alcohol that someone has in his or her system when he or she gets behind the wheel of a car. It may surprise you to learn that a driver can cause an alcohol-related accident even if he or she is not considered legally intoxicated — that is, if his or her BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent in the state of Connecticut. In fact, drivers can be convicted of drunk driving with a low BAC if they are deemed incapable of safely operating their vehicle.

What affects a driver’s BAC? It is not the type of alcohol that you drink, but rather the amount that a driver consumes that determines his or her blood alcohol content. Other factors can affect BAC, as well include how fast the drinks are consumed, whether the drinker is a man or a woman, the drinker’s weight and whether the person has eaten food before drinking. Certain medications can also amplify the effect of a high BAC, intensifying the driver’s feelings of intoxication.

When is a negligent driver considered to be intoxicated? In most instances, BAC levels need to reach 0.08 percent for a driver to be considered intoxicated. However, many drivers begin to experience effects that make it unsafe for them to drive at far lower BAC levels. For example, a BAC of just 0.02 percent can lower perception and motor skills to the point that a driver causes a wreck.

Does someone’s BAC have to be higher than 0.08 for him or her to be held liable for a drunk driving wreck? No. Any level of intoxication that leads to a wreck can be considered a violation that deserves civil claims action. Drunk drivers should be held accountable for their poor decision-making and general endangerment of others, especially if they end up causing a car accident because of their recklessness.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “The ABCs of BAC,” accessed Oct. 09, 2015

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