Blood Alcohol Level (BAL)

Florida law is very clear regarding what is considered to be driving under the influence. Per Florida Statutes §316.193, it is considered a criminal offense to either be driving when normal faculties are impaired or when the blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or more. While the language may be well-known, it is a little less clear to know what "blood alcohol level" is referring to exactly. Also known as blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration, this is simply referring to the amount of alcohol that is in an individual's blood at any given time; this is considered to be the most accurate way to determine a level of intoxication.

About the Effects of BAL

Studies have shown that certain BALs will result in certain levels of impairment. For example, most people will appear to be completely normal between 0.010 and 0.029 percent; however, the higher the blood alcohol level goes, the more exaggerated the symptoms will become.

The estimated effects of alcohol at different BAL include the following:

  • 0.030 to 0.059 -
    Most people will begin to feel euphoric at this level. It is commonly known as being "buzzed" or "tipsy." Other behavior symptoms include general relaxation and decreased inhibition. It may affect concentration but the symptoms are generally unnoticeable.

  • 0.06 to 0.09 -
    Begins to become legally intoxicated. Most will have less acute feelings and will become more extroverted. They will also struggle with their reasoning and judgment skills. Other impairments include depth perception and peripheral vision.

  • 0.10 to 0.19 -
    When an individual reaches this level they will often begin to over-express themselves, resulting in wild emotional swings. Impairments begin to affect reflexes and reaction time, as well as general motor control. Many will stagger or slur their speech.

How much do I have to drink to be "under the influence"?

This is a common question. The truth, however, is that every person is different and they will need to drink different amounts to reach different blood alcohol levels. Progressive.com offers an interactive calculator where you can "estimate" what your blood alcohol level would be depending on several factors - including weight, how many drinks you consumed, how long you were drinking and your gender. For example, if you were a 120 pound female who drank three 12 ounce beers over a one hour period, your BAL is estimated to be at 0.10 percent. If, however, you were a 200 pound male, it would only be at 0.04 percent.

The calculator is based off a basic formula provided by the NHTSA, however, it is anything but conclusive. It is not completely accurate and again is only used to demonstrate how much different people will be affected differently by alcohol. Therefore, there really is no concrete evidence to how much you can drink to be considered legally drunk. The truth is that if you want to avoid a DUI arrest the only surefire way is to not drink and drive - ever.

Unfortunately, not drinking and driving may not always be enough to protect you. False arrests or wrongful accusations can happen all the time. No matter whether you have been wrongfully charged or even if you had something to drink and are facing charges that are not proportional to the offense, you can trust in our legal team. We know what you are facing and we are dedicated to ensuring that your legal rights are protected to the full extent of the law. You can trust that we will do everything possible to defend you.

How Blood Alcohol Level is Calculated

There are numerous ways in which the BAL of a defendant may be tested. A preliminary step that many law enforcement officers will take involve field sobriety tests; this, however, is only an estimate and is by no means a completely accurate form. More accurate forms of blood alcohol testing involve chemical tests such as the breath, blood or urine tests. All of these are considered fairly accurate, but they are not flawless; in fact, there are many ways they may be challenged by an experienced Tampa DUI defense attorney.

For example, the following may be asked about the breath test:

  • Did the defendant take a deep breath from the lungs?
  • Was the machine properly calibrated?
  • Was the test administered during the absorptive phase?
  • Was mouth alcohol present during the test?
  • Did the defendant have diabetes?

Any of the above could cause the test could return a fault reading. Similarly, a defense lawyer could attack the prosecution's case regarding a blood test. Although extremely accurate, there are still errors that can be made which affect the overall result. If the blood was not properly stored, did not have the correct amount of anticoagulants or preservatives in the vial, was not properly inverted following the draw, was not refrigerated or was not properly labeled, it could be challenged. Even something as simple as swabbing the draw spot with an alcohol-based cleanser could result in faulty readings. Therefore, it is extremely important that no time is wasted in consulting a knowledgeable attorney.

By working with our firm, you can rest assured knowing that we will do everything possible to challenge the evidence from blood alcohol testing. Call today for a free consultation!

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