A person’s blood alcohol content (sometimes called blood alcohol concentration and commonly referred to as “BAC”) is a common metric used by law and medicine to determine alcohol intoxication. BAC is expressed as a percentage of alcohol found in the bloodstream. A 0.08% reading means that one eighth of one percent of a person’s blood is composed of alcohol. Penalties for a DUI or DWI offense vary and also become more severe when a driver is a repeat offender.
In this Law Guide Article
Understanding Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and Blood Alcohol Levels (BAL)
A person stopped under suspicion for drunk driving may refuse to take a sobriety or chemical test. If you volunteer to do so, each state has certain minimal levels for which a drunk driving offense is presumed by the result. For example, if the blood alcohol level of a driver in New York is 0.08 or above, the driver is presumed to be intoxicated and driving while impaired. While the BAC is generally 0.08% or higher for drivers who are of the legal drinking age, there are zero tolerance laws for drivers below the legal drinking age which reduce the required BAC to zero or near zero.
Implied Consent and Administrative License Revocation (ALR)
If a person refuses to take a sobriety test, most states allow an officer to make an arrest and immediately seize the driver’s vehicle and results in the automatic suspension of the operator’s driver’s license. This occurs even if the driver is later shown not to have been guilty of a DUI or DWI offense. This is because the refusal to submit to the test raises a presumption of guilt (what does the driver have to hide by taking a test?)
Most states that have ALR laws also recognize the “implied consent” of every driver to a test of breath, blood or urine when requested by a law enforcement official if suspected of drunk driving. The concept is that driving an automobile is a privilege to use the public roadways and, in order to ensure public safety, every driver consents to reasonable safety measures.
BAC-BAL / Implied Consent, ALR Suspension State Laws Chart
|State||Per Se BAC||Implied Consent Law||First ALR Suspension|
|District of Columbia||0.08||Yes||2-90 days|
|New Hampshire||0.08||Yes||6 months|
|New Mexico||0.08||Yes||90 days|
|North Carolina||0.08||Yes||30 days|
|North Dakota||0.08||Yes||91 days|
|West Virginia||0.08||Yes||6 months|