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Impairment at Different Blood Alcohol Concentrations

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Connecticut and throughout the United States is .08%. However, impairment can occur at a lower BAC level, and some states have different laws about driving under the influence at a lower BAC level. You can learn more about how alcohol impacts the body at different BAC levels.


BAC, or Blood Alcohol Concentration is essentially a measurement of how impaired a person is. In Connecticut, drivers under the age of 21 are considered legally impaired when they have blood alcohol concentrations of .02 or higher. Drivers who are 21 years old and above are considered legally impaired when they have a BAC of .08 or higher. The typical understanding of drinking and driving is that you are pretty much okay to drive if you’ve had a drink or two. But how does your BAC actually affect your ability to drive?

Blood Alcohol Concentrations Of .02-.08

According to the NHTSA, blood alcohol concentrations of .02 can cause effects such as slight loss of judgment and relaxation of the body. A person’s body may feel slightly warm, and the mood may be altered. This can affect the driver’s ability to track moving targets while driving, and decrease the ability to multitask. For example, it may be more difficult to divide the attention on braking and accelerating while also following the road in front of them. 

For some, the effects are very, very minimal with blood alcohol concentrations of .02 and for others, the effects can be those mentioned above. However, it is important to keep in mind that even with such a low BAC, and a BAC that is technically not intoxicated, it still can have effects on the ability to drive safely. 

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A BAC of .08 can result in poor balance, muscle control, and a slower reaction time. Effects of intoxication can result in impaired memory, reasoning, and self-control. A person with this BAC is legally intoxicated and can be charged with a DUI. Effects on driving at this BAC level could include impaired perception, and decreased ability to process signals and control the speed of the car. 

BAC Above 1

A BAC of 1.0 causes a severe loss of reaction time. This BAC level can cause slurred speech, poor coordination, and a slower reaction time and cognitive ability. Other affects include decreased ability to track moving targets and multitask, as well as the driver’s ability to stay in one lane and brake appropriately. Decreased ability to stay in one lane and brake appropriately puts the driver and other drivers around them at great risk for collision. A person with this BAC level or these symptoms should not get behind the wheel. 

A BAC of 1.5 or higher puts the driver and others around them at significant risk for serious collision. This BAC level can cause severe decrease in muscle control, vomiting, major loss of balance, slurred speech, and extreme visual impairment. This BAC level can cause effects to the driver’s ability to control the vehicle, pay attention to driving the vehicle, or process visual or auditory information. A person with this BAC level or these symptoms should, under no circumstances, get behind the wheel and drive. 

Getting Help

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, call our office to speak with someone who can answer your questions and give you advice on what to do. The best way to be proactive and make sure that your rights are protected is by contacting a DUI defense lawyer in your area. We are happy to answer your questions about blood alcohol concentrations during a free consultation and guide you through this process.

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