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Does your BAC reflect how drunk you are?

Posted on December 29, 2020

Colorado has strict laws against drunk driving and other such risky behaviors. As with all states, it relies on a system of blood alcohol content levels to determine if you are too drunk to drive. 

But having a low BAC does not necessarily mean you are safe to drive. In fact, BAC levels are an inexact science that cannot truly determine if you should drive. 

Levels of intoxication

Healthline looks at what different BAC levels feels like. Low level intoxication occurs at 0.01 to 0.05 percent BAC. You generally feel like your normal self at this stage. This stage occurs at one or less alcoholic drinks. Euphoria happens at 0.03 to 0.12 percent, with BAC limit being 0.08 percent. At this stage, you feel fewer inhibitions and more confidence. You may have slowed reaction times. 

Excitement is the stage at which you feel “drunk”. This is 0.09 to 0.25 percent BAC. You may struggle to remember things and have trouble focusing. You could lose balance and coordination. Your emotions might feel unstable. After this, you go into confusion stage at 0.18 to 0.30 percent BAC, which many consider “blackout drunk”. Anything above this level can cause physical harm. 

Exceptions to the guide

But this acts as a general guide. It assumes the average amount of alcohol it takes for a male and female to feel intoxicated. But the speed at which alcohol affects you can differ based on age, body size, food eaten, and your history with alcohol. 

In other words, you may feel sober when your BAC level is over the limit. It is also possible to feel drunk while under the limit. This is why experts suggest you do not drink or drive even if you think your BAC is low.