How to Understand the Physiology of Your BAC

If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of a DUI, or if you’ve ever been pulled over during a random DUI checkpoint, then it’s likely that you’ve been asked to use a Breathalyzer test, or even taken to the station for a blood test. However, it may have left you wondering: how does this test work, and why is it powerful enough to decide if I am going to be arrested on suspicion of a DUI or not. Here, we’ve created a post that will show you how to understand the physiology of your BAC and gain clarity on this.

What is a BAC?

BAC stands for blood-alcohol content. Your BAC is measured as a means of identifying the percentage of alcohol within your blood. The measurement identifies the weight of alcohol within your blood and creates a reading from there.

How to determine your BAC

Your BAC can be determined through direct blood testing (this would be done at a police station by obtaining a blood sample from you), or through indirect testing which would include the Breathalyzer. The latter method involves an analysis of your breath sample which is then converted with ratios to estimate the percentage of alcohol in your blood.

How accurate is your BAC?

The accuracy of your BAC depends on the method that is used to test your BAC. In the case of a blood sample, it is accurate so long as everything is done correctly. In the case of a Breathalyzer, your BAC results are not always accurate.

What is alcohol made of and why is my BAC level so important?

Alcohol is a term which covers various chemicals with a similar chemical make-up. They include ethanol, methanol, and isopropanol. The alcohol we consume in beverages is ethanol. It’s an organic compound, highly flammable, and is a central nervous depressant when consumed by humans.

The degree to which your central nervous system is affected directly depends on the amount of alcohol in your blood, which is why we measure BAC levels. As your BAC increases, your response to stimuli decreases, and you may have trouble with speech and walking/staying balanced. You will also experience reduced inhibitions, making your decision making skills considerably compromised.

Clearly then, when on the road, it’s important that the BAC of drivers is assessed when need be—not only for the safety of others, but for the safety of themselves.

It is important to note, however, that a BAC will affect most people differently depending on their diet, how much food they have eaten recently, their gender, and their weight among others. Of course, when your BAC is tested, these factors are not taken into account which is why it is always best to err on the side of caution when operating a vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages.