What is the significance of blood alcohol concentration levels?
Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are one of the most widely recognized means of determining whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol, particularly the .08% level which is used in Oklahoma as the threshold for police to make an arrest for DUI. But what is the significance of the various BAC levels? Aside from the .08% legal context, what is the difference between a .05% and .10%?
The effects of blood-alcohol concentration have been the subject of considerable study, not only on their specific effects on driving ability but also with regard to their emotional and psychological influences. These can be broken down as follows:
BAC .02%: Psychologically, the effects of alcohol at this low level are generally those which people seek when they drink: a sense of relaxation and warmth, along with an altered mood. Physically the effects on driving are not yet pronounced. The driver may have a harder time tracking moving objects or performing tasks that require divided attention.
BAC .05%: At this level, the psychological effects can be more of the desirable ones (feeling good and relaxed inhibitions), but also introduce some less desirable behaviors, including reduced alertness and impaired judgment. Specific effects on driving our reduced coordination, trouble with steering and decreased ability to respond to sudden and unexpected events.
BAC .08%: Problems with judgment, reasoning ability and self-control, mixed with degraded coordination and concentration ability contribute to difficulty in governing vehicle speed, reduced visual perception and a reduction in the ability to respond properly to things like changes in traffic signals. These effects are pronounced enough to make a person anywhere from 10 to more than 50 times more likely to be involved in an accident, which largely explains why this percentage level constitutes grounds for a DUI arrest.
BAC .10%: Muscle coordination, visual acuity and reaction times continue to deteriorate, manifesting themselves in difficulty keeping the car in its lane. Problems with speed control now combine with lowered ability to apply the brakes in a timely manner to make the driver even more dangerous to himself and others.
BAC .15%: At this level of intoxication, about twice the legal limit, muscle control becomes so poor that simply maintaining balance becomes problematic. Driving problems will affect virtually all aspects of vehicle operation – coordination, sensory perception, judgment, attention span and concentration. This intoxication level qualifies for a charge of aggravated DUI under Oklahoma law.
BAC levels provide approximate guideposts to measure alcohol affects, but are not necessarily determinative of when police may arrest a person for drunk driving. If a motorists behaviors behind the wheel are sufficiently erratic or dangerous to warrant or probable cause suspicion of drunk driving, and arrest may ensue even if the BAC level is less than .08%.
Whether you have been arrested for DUI based on a BAC reading or for any other cause, you will require a legal defense that is both knowledgeable in how to represent clients in your position as well as aggressive in conducting that defense. Particularly if you already have a DUI conviction on your record or are facing an aggravated charge, your selection of a Oklahoma DUI Defense Attorney can make the difference between the worst possible outcome under the circumstances and the best one. Contact the DUI lawyers at the Hunsucker Legal Group at 405-231-5600 for your free DUI consultation