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DUI charges by the numbers: the impact of BAC

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Drunk Driving, Drunk Driving, DUI

When it comes to drunk driving charges, the level of alcohol in your bloodstream is not just a number. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) serves as a scientific benchmark for legal intoxication and plays a pivotal role in determining the penalties you might face. What should you know?

What is blood alcohol content (BAC)?

BAC is measurement of the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. For example, a BAC of 0.08 percent means that there are 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood.

In most states, a BAC of 0.08 percent is the legal limit for driving. However, underage drivers have a BAC limit of percent, and commercial drivers can face charges at 0.04 percent.

How does BAC influence the penalties you face for a drunk driving charge?

The penalties for drunk driving can vary significantly based on the BAC level at the time of arrest. Even if a driver’s BAC is below the legal limit, they may still face penalties if erratic driving or a failed field sobriety test indicates that their driving is impaired.

A BAC at or above the legal limit typically results in a DUI charge. Penalties can include fines, license revocation, installation of an ignition interlock device and even jail time.

Drivers with a BAC significantly higher than the legal limit may face aggravated DUI charges. In North Dakota, a driver faces enhanced penalties at a BAC of 0.16 percent or higher. These charges carry stiffer penalties, including longer jail sentences, higher fines and more extended license suspensions.

Any amount of alcohol could impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. However, drivers facing drunk driving charges should understand the role that BAC can have in the charges they face and their rights when charged with a DUI.


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