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What is blood alcohol content level and why is it important?

Many people have heard of blood alcohol concentration, or content, levels but may have wondered what BAC specifically refers to. It is important to understand what blood alcohol concentration levels are because BAC is commonly used in drunk driving charges and is an important part of the criminal justice system.

Blood alcohol concentration level generally refers to the amount of alcohol present in an individual's body as measured in a certain volume of blood. Alcohol is quickly absorbed by the body and BAC is often used to determine impairment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that a multitude of factors impact BAC level. All types of alcohol impact an individual's BAC, with several factors determining their BAC level, including how many drinks they have had, how fast they are drinking and the gender and weight of the individual. Medication and other drugs can also impact an individual's BAC.

A driver with a BAC of 0.08 or greater is generally impaired and may be arrested and face drunk driving charges. Depending on the circumstances, legal consequences may also be associated with a BAC lower than 0.08. Because of the complexity of BAC, it may be possible to challenge this type of evidence, depending on the circumstances.

Part of the criminal defense process is identifying and challenging possible violations of the rights of the accused individual and violations of police procedures or problems with the alleged facts or stated evidence. Because of the serious repercussions of drunk driving charges, it is important that accused individuals be aware of their criminal defense rights and options.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "The ABCs of BAC," Accessed March 28, 2016

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