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How can alcohol affect your ability to drive?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Drunk Driving

People who are operating vehicles or heavy equipment must have the physical and cognitive abilities to do so safely. For those who have been consuming alcohol, this likely isn’t possible.

For adults who are over 21, New York has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08%, which means any driver who has a BAC at or equal to that is going to face drunk driving charges. While many people focus on that legal limit, they may not realize that the effects of alcohol start well before that BAC level.

BAC below .08%

When your BAC is only .02%, your muscles become more relaxed, you have a decline in visual function and you aren’t able to multitask as well. By the time your BAC increases to just .05%, your coordination is reduced, your reaction time begins to slow down and you begin to lose fine motor control.

BAC at .08% to .10%

At a BAC level of .08%, you can suffer from short-term memory loss, impaired perception, large motor function decline and reduced cognitive ability. You can also have issues with coordination and eyesight. Your ability to drive takes an even bigger hit at .10%. Slower thinking at this stage causes poor coordination and a much slower reaction time.

BAC of .15% or above

Once your BAC reaches .15%, your ability to balance is severely affected. You have a major loss of all motor skill functions. Your ability to react or pay attention to things is almost nonexistent, and this affects your cognitive abilities related to sounds and sights.

As your BAC climbs, the effects become increasingly noticeable to those around you. If you’re driving, officers may notice signs of drunk driving, such as swerving or failing to stop at red lights, and initiate a traffic stop, even if you’re “feeling fine.” During that stop, they will take steps to determine your BAC.

If you’re already facing criminal charges for drunk driving, you need to act quickly. Legal assistance can help you to learn the options you have for defending against these charges. Some options available to you might be time sensitive, so getting on top of your defense strategy as soon as the charges are levied is critical.

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