Department of Recreation and Wellness
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is a measure of alcohol in the blood as a percentage. It is calculated in grams per 100 mL of blood, so a BAC of 0.08 means your blood is 0.08% alcohol by volume.
Using a breathalyzer, BAC is measured as grams per 210 Liters of breath (since the ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol is 2,100:1). All the calculations are done inside the device, so the number on the display represents the percentage of alcohol in your blood rather than on your breath.
What Symptoms Occur at Different BAC Levels?
The following are typical effects associated with increases in blood alcohol content. Because of the effects of tolerance, some individuals will not experience feelings of relaxation or euphoria until reaching a higher than typical BAC. However, physical and visual effects (e.g. motor skill impairment) are fairly consistent and correspond to the BAC levels indicated. Physical and visual impairments will not improve with increased tolerance.
|.02% to .04%||Lightheaded - Mildly relaxed, mood may be mildly intensified|
|.05% to .07%||Buzzed - Feel warm and relaxed, good moods are better and bad moods are worse, euphoria, may talk louder/act bolder than usual|
|.08% to .10%||Legally Impaired - May slur speech, balance/motor skills become impaired, sight/hearing ability clearly diminished, judgement/self-control impaired, may take poor/risky sexual choices.|
|.11% to .15%||Drunk - "High," balance very impaired, judgement, memory and motor skills impaired, may forget how many drinks you have had past this point, men may have trouble functioning sexually.|
|.16% to .19%||Very Drunk - Euphoria may give way to unpleasant feelings (depression), difficulty talking/walking/standing, sharp increase in chances of physically injuring yourself or others, may experience a blackout at this level or higher, nausea, dizzy, blurred vision.|
|.20%||Confusion and Disorientation - May need help to stand or walk; if you hurt yourself, you probably won't realize it because the alcohol has numbed your pain and your judgement is so impaired you might not do anything about it; nausea and vomiting common, getting very dangerous because gag reflex is impaired, so you could choke if you do throw up (especially if you black out).|
|.30%||Stupor - Likely to pass out involuntarily (as opposed to lower BAC's where you may decide to stop drinking and go to sleep); if pass out, may be difficult for others to wake you; possible to die from alcohol poisoning or choking on vomit at this level and higher|
|.35%||Equivalent to general anesthesia, breathing may stop.|
|.40%||Coma likely, breathing and heartbeat slowed to dangerous levels due to slowdown in nerve activity.|
Standard Servings - What Counts as One Drink?
A standard serving of alcohol, or "one drink" contains 14 grams (0.5 oz) of pure alcohol (ethanol).
The amount of alcohol in the drink is more important than the volume of liquid. Different types of drinks contain different concentrations of alcohol. You might see the concentration of alcohol in the drink expressed as a percent (e.g. 40% alcohol by volume), or as a proof. Proof is simply the percentage multiplied x2, so a drink with 40% alcohol by volume is 80 proof.
|Light Beer||Regular Beer||Micro Brew||White Wine||Red Wine||80 Proof|
|4.20% AbV||5.00% AbV||6.70% AbV||12.0% AbV||15.0% AbV||40.0% AbV|
|1 drink = 14 oz||1 drink = 12 oz||1 drink = 9 oz||1 drink = 5 oz||1 drink = 4 oz||1 drink = 1.5 oz|
|1 bottle = 0.85 drinks||1 bottle = 1 drink||1 bottle = 1.33 drinks||1 glass = 1 drink||1 glass = 1 drink||1 shot = 1 drink|