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A BAC doesn't have to be .08 for a driver to be dangerous

Law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups here in Louisiana and across the country tend to focus on making sure that drivers don't get behind the wheel of their vehicles while drunk. As in most other states, that means having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

The problem is that remaining so focused on "drunk" driving may make many people believe they can safely drive if they only have a "buzz." Unfortunately, by the time you realize that you're buzzed, you probably shouldn't drive.

How alcohol affects your body

From your first drink, alcohol begins to work on your system. As you continue to drink, your body experiences the following effects:

  • When your BAC reaches .02, you feel relaxed and get that warm feeling throughout your body. You also lose some of your judgment, visual acuity and ability to perform two tasks at once.
  • When your BAC reaches .05, you usually feel good, your inhibitions lower and you aren't as alert. Your behavior becomes exaggerated as you lose more control of your muscles. Steering your vehicle would be more difficult and tracking objects becomes more difficult as well. This diminishes your ability to respond to emergencies while driving.
  • When your BAC reaches .08, you lose muscle coordination, which affects your vision, balance and reaction time. Your speech may start to slur, and you find it more difficult to detect danger. You also lose more of your judgment and your memory, self-control and reasoning. Your perception becomes impaired, and it becomes more difficult to process information.

The higher your BAC goes, the more dangerous it becomes for you to drive. As you can see, by the time your BAC reaches .05, you probably shouldn't be driving, even though this is well below the legal limit of .08.

What this means in an alcohol-related crash

If you suffer injuries in a crash caused by another driver who "only had a couple of drinks," that individual's BAC may not reach the legal limit. Even so, the alcohol could have easily affected the driver's ability to safely operate his or her vehicle. This is why some people end up facing DUI or DWI charges, even though their BAC was less than .08.

It also means that you may use the fact that the individual had been drinking to establish negligence in a personal injury claim in which you seek compensation for the financial losses associated with the crash and your injuries. Dealing with insurance companies and potential lawsuits while you are recovering from your injuries and trying to get your life back on track may only cause you more stress. Fortunately, you don't have to go through the process alone.

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