Close Menu
Home > Blog > DUI And Criminal Defense > What Is BAC and Why Is It Important?

What Is BAC and Why Is It Important?


In Gainesville and Ocala, and all of Florida for that matter, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content or breath alcohol content of .08% or higher. So what exactly is BAC and why does it matter?

What is BAC?

As the name suggests, BAC generally speaking is an indicator of the amount of alcohol in a person’s body. When a person drinks alcohol, that alcohol is absorbed into the stomach lining and small intestine and then finds its way into the bloodstream.

More specifically, blood alcohol content is a percentage of ethanol (alcohol) in the blood. DUI laws reflect this as the full law states that a person cannot drive if their blood alcohol content is .08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. Breath is also used because the alcohol content of exhaled air accurately reflects the alcohol content of blood. As such, a person cannot drive if his or her breath alcohol level is .08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Why is BAC Important?

BAC is important because it is one of the most accurate indicators of the level of impairment an individual is experiencing. Critically for the purposes of DUI, .08% has been determined by law to be the level of impairment where it is no longer acceptable to operate a motor vehicle. Virginia Tech conducted a study in which they noted the impairments at relative BAC ranges:

  • BAC of .001-.029: Subtle effects
  • BAC of .030-.059: Impairment of concentration
  • BAC of .060-.099: Impairment of reasoning, depth perception, peripheral vision, and glare recovery
  • BAC of .100-.199: Impairment of reflexes, reaction time, gross motor skills, and speech
  • BAC of .200-.299: Severe impairment of motor skills, loss of consciousness, and memory blackout
  • BAC of .300 or higher: Risk of death and impairment of breathing and heart rate

As you can see from this chart, at the range of .060 – .099 a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle diminishes significantly as their reasoning and vision begin to become impaired.

How Am I Supposed to Know My BAC?

Since the law regarding DUI is dependent on your BAC it seems like it would be incredibly important to know your BAC before driving a car. Short of carrying around a pocket breathalyzer though, what can you do? First things first: if you at all think you’re too impaired to drive, don’t drive. Call a friend, get an Uber, or find some other way home.

There are ways to have a general idea of your BAC though. It’s worth noting that a lot of factors influence your BAC: your weight, how much food you’ve consumed, your stress level, your natural rate of metabolism, the proof of the alcohol, how quickly the alcohol was consumed, or if you’re on any medication.

Assuming all things as average though, BAC comes down to weight and amount drank. Many websites show “BAC calculators” that estimate BAC based on these two factors. According to Virginia Tech for a 180 pound man, 3 drinks will lead to a BAC of approximately .06. For a 120 pound female, 2 drinks will lead to a BAC of approximately .08. This however should never be used as a hard and fast guide. No police officer is going to have sympathy when you tell them that the BAC calculator said you were only at .06. As mentioned, there are a lot of factors that go into your BAC and the risk a DUI or the other dangers of drunk driving is considerably too severe to place on something as simple as a BAC calculator.

Can I Do Anything to Lower My BAC?

Other than wait? No. Despite what you may have heard about various strategies to “sober up,” nothing works other than simply waiting for your body to metabolize the alcohol. If you think you’re unfit to drive, don’t attempt to “sober up” and drive. Find another way home.

What Should I Do if I Get a DUI in Gainesville or Ocala?

Being pulled over and having the police suspect that you are driving under the influence is a very stressful occasion. If you are arrested for DUI, it is important that you hire an Ocala DUI attorney promptly so that he or she may begin investigating all the details of your case and find evidence to help you. The attorneys at Meldon Law have years of experience defending DUI cases in the Gainesville and Ocala area and can help you in fighting your charges. Contact us today at 800-373-8000 or

Jeffrey Meldon and Carey Meldon have written a book “A DUI Guide for Alachua County.” Based on Jeffrey and Carey’s over 60 years of experience, this guide will help educate the reader on possible ways to avoid being charged and convicted of DUI in Alachua County! You can download it for free at or call us at 800-373-8000 and we will send you a free copy!

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn