Blood Alcohol Levels

Blood Alcohol Levels

Many people who are arrested for an IL DUI are confused about what exactly a blood alcohol level really means.  The first DUI laws in the nation made it illegal to drive with a BAC of .15 or higher.  Over the years that number has been reduced to .08 in most parts of the nation.  Many states have a zero tolerance policy for people under the age of 21.  That means that it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to have any alcohol in their system.

Illinois law currently sets the blood alcohol level at .08.  If you are found operating a motor vehicle – meaning you are in actual physical control of the vehicle, but not necessarily driving – and the officer arrests you based on probable cause, and your BAC tests .08 or higher you will be charged with DUI.  This is called the per se level of intoxication.  That means that the only thing the State must prove at trial is that you tested .08 BAC or higher in order for you to be found guilty of DUI.

There are many factors that determine your BAC level at any given time.  When and what you last ate is a major factor in determining your BAC level.  Food closes the pyloric valve so alcohol cannot pass into your intestines where it is absorbed into your blood stream.  Thus, if you drink alcohol while you are eating the rate at which that alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream is slowed down significantly.  This can give people the misperception that the alcohol they have consumed is having no effect on their ability to drive.

Once the food you ate is processed the pyloric valve opens up and dumps the alcohol that was staying in your stomach to dump into your intestines where it enter the blood stream.  This is why some people will all of the sudden feel intoxicated some time after consuming alcohol with their meal even if they quit drinking some time before driving.

Some of the alcohol in your stomach will enter your blood stream through the lining of your stomach, but that is only a small percentage of the alcohol.  A common risk for people who do not understand how alcohol is processed by their body is the mistaken belief that drinking coffee or water, or other substances will cause them to not become intoxicated.  This is simply false.  The caffeine in coffee may make you more alert, but it will not reduce the alcohol in your blood stream, thus cannot make you sober enough to drive.

The only thing that can reduce your BAC level is time.  Your body has to have time to process the alcohol you consumed.  Regardless of what else you do, that alcohol will still have to make its way through your body before being broken down and expelled through your sweat or urine.

There are some significant risks with high alcohol levels or frequent intoxication including severe organ damage, coma, and death.  The Center for Disease Control reports that approximately 85,000 per year die from alcohol consumption each year (not including death by accident or other causes while intoxicated).

If you have been charged with an alcohol related crime then call IL DUI attorney Brian Roberts right now for a free, confidential case evaluation.  Our attorneys are highly trained and stay on top of the latest developments in defending people charged with alcohol related crimes.  Call right now!