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Blood Alcohol Level Facts

Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) is the amount of alcohol present in your blood as you drink. It's calculated by determining how many milligrams of alcohol are present in 100 milliliters of blood. But you don't need a Breathalyzer, a calculator, or a measurement conversion chart to figure out what BAL you had last night. Use the Table of Blood Alcohol Levels below. This is a generalized chart based on a person who is metabolizing (or breaking down) one drink an hour.

BAL

Remember, while this chart is a good general guideline, every individual reacts differently to alcohol. The chart doesn't take into account your individual body composition, your use of medication, your mood changes, or your personal metabolism rate. Therefore, your blood alcohol level may in fact be slightly higher or slightly lower than the chart indicates for the number of drinks you consume. Just keep in mind that your body processes alcohol at a constant rate of .5 oz. per hour, regardless of how many ounces you consume. Therefore, the faster you drink, the higher your blood alcohol level will be.

BAL Behavior By Numbers
(Source: www.factsontap.org, 2004)

BAL .02%-.03%: You feel mildly relaxed and maybe a little lightheaded. Your inhibitions are slightly loosened, and whatever mood you were in before you started drinking may be mildly intensified.

BAL .05%-.06%: You feel warm and relaxed. If you're the shy type when you're sober, you lose your feelings of shyness. Your behavior may become exaggerated, making you talk louder or faster or act bolder than usual. Emotions are intensified, so your good moods are better and your bad moods are worse. You may also feel a mild sense of euphoria.

BAL .08%-.09%: You believe you're functioning better than you actually are. At this level, you may start to slur your speech. Your sense of balance is probably off, and your motor skills are starting to become impaired. Your ability to see and hear clearly is diminished. Your judgment is being affected, so it's difficult for you to decide whether or not to continue drinking. Your ability to evaluate sexual situations is impaired. Students may jokingly refer to this state of mind as “beer goggles”, but this BAL can have serious repercussions.

BAL .10%-.12%: At this level, you feel euphoric, but you lack coordination and balance. Your motor skills are markedly impaired, as are your judgment and memory. You probably don't remember how many drinks you've had. Your emotions are exaggerated, and some people become loud, aggressive, or belligerent.

BAL .14%-.17%: Your euphoric feelings may give way to unpleasant feelings. You have difficulty talking, walking, or even standing. Your judgment and perception are severely impaired. You may become more aggressive, and there is an increased risk of accidentally injuring yourself or others. This is the point when you may experience a blackout.

BAL .20%: You feel confused, dazed, or otherwise disoriented. You need help to stand up or walk. If you hurt yourself at this point, you probably won't realize it because you won't feel pain. At this point you may experience nausea and/or start vomiting (keep in mind that for some people, a lower blood alcohol level than .20% may cause vomiting). Your gag reflex is impaired, so you could choke if you do throw up. Since blackouts are likely at this level, you may not remember any of this.

BAL .25%: All mental, physical, and sensory functions are severely impaired. You're emotionally numb. There's an increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit and of seriously injuring yourself by falling or other accidents.

BAL .30%: You're in a stupor. You have little comprehension of where you are. You may suddenly pass out at this point and be difficult to awaken. (But don't kid yourself…passing out can also occur at lower BALs. But, at lower blood alcohol levels, you may decide you had enough to drink and go "pass out." With an alarming BAL like .30%, your body will be deciding to pass out for you.)

BAL .35%: This blood alcohol level also happens to be the level of surgical anesthesia. You may stop breathing at this point.

BAL .40%: You are probably in a coma. The nerve centers controlling your heartbeat and respiration are slowing down. It's a miracle if you're not dead.