Each year in the US there are over 1 million arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol.
The legal definition of impaired driving is operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or above.
To most people, BAC is a bit of a mysterious term. How do you know what your BAC is? And what does BAC mean in relation to how many drinks you have?
Well, there are a number of factors that affect your blood alcohol concentration, which you need to be aware of in order to drive safely. Read on to find out more.
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What Have You Been Drinking?
One of the main factors affecting your blood alcohol concentration is what sort of drinks you've been having.
Every alcoholic beverage has a different strength and will affect your BAC accordingly. So a glass of wine will affect you differently than the same volume of beer.
Your Body Type Affects Blood Alcohol Concentration
Another major factor to consider when working out your BAC is your body type.
The basic rule is that the more you weigh, the lesser the impact of alcohol on your BAC. This is because the larger you are, the more water you contain and water dilutes the alcohol in your body.
So, if a group of people has exactly the same drinks, the lightest person will have the highest BAC and the heaviest will have the lowest.
As well as your body type, your sex also affects how your body responds to alcohol. Women are generally lighter than men, so as we've already discussed this can mean their alcohol tolerance is lower.
Women will usually have a higher BAC than men because blood alcohol concentration is also affected by your percentage of body fat. Women typically have a higher percentage of fat in their bodies than men, which corresponds to their higher BAC.
When You Last Drank
As we all know, if you get drunk, you do eventually sober up.
This is because your BAC will slowly reduce over time. The rate at which it reduces depends on how much you have had to drink, and how quickly you drank it. Your BAC will only reduce in time if you stop drinking though, and stop topping up your alcohol levels.
If you are unsure about your BAC, the best thing to do is to work it out using a BAC calculator.
There is some truth to the old saying "never drink on an empty stomach".
Drinking on an empty stomach results in a higher BAC than if you have a meal, because the food absorbs the alcohol, and also contains water which dilutes it.
So if you are planning on drinking, whether you are driving or not, it is always recommended that you have something to eat first.
Health Tips and More
So those are some of the factors that affect your blood alcohol concentration. Your size, gender and how much you have had to eat all make a difference. But if you are unsure, you should always check.
If you found this guide useful, why not check out some of our other health tips right here?