The Levels of Intoxication

Young handsome man passed out on sofa with pizza slice and beer can in his hand in messy room after party

Most people are aware that alcohol affects everyone differently. We all have that friend that brags that they can “drink anyone under the table,” and they are right. They seem to be able to consume drink after drink without becoming sloppy drunk, while another friend has two drinks and is stumbling for the door.

While this is certainly an example, it is not the rule. People behave in a general way depending on their level of intoxication, giving law enforcement and medical professionals a good idea of just how drunk someone may be. Here are the levels of intoxication, beginning with the level at which it is illegal to drive, and how a typical person may behave:

0.08 – 0.09 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): The person is slightly impaired. They have some difficulty maintaining their balance, their reaction time is slowed, and their vision and speech are no longer typical. Most people believe at this point that they are not as intoxicated as they actually are.

0.10 – 0.125 BAC: At this level, a person begins to lose their good judgement. They may make decisions that they would not make if they were sober. There is a significant impairment of speech, reaction time, balance, hearing and vision.

0.13 – 0.15 BAC: There is now a lack of physical control. Euphoria and joy is slowly replaced by anxiety and a feeling of restlessness.

0.16 – 0.19 BAC: At this level of intoxication, a person begins to appear as what we call “sloppy” or “fall down” drunk. A person may begin to feel sick to their stomach.

0.20 BAC: A person has now reached more than double the legal driving limit. They may need help moving from place to place safely, and if they happen to be injured, they probably won’t feel it. A person could become physically ill at the point, which is dangerous. The gag reflex is impaired now, so vomiting can cause a person to choke. A person who is this drunk should not be permitted to sleep on their back.

0.25 BAC:  There is an increased risk of being injured due to some type of accident. There is also an increased risk of choking on vomit.

0.30 BAC: When a person is this intoxicated, they could pass out suddenly. They may also be difficult to wake up should they pass out. This person will have little awareness of where they are.

0.35 BAC: At this level, intoxication is similar to surgical anesthesia. A person could easily slip into coma.

0.40 BAC: This level of intoxication is potentially fatal.

Though 0.08 is the legal limit, meaning you will automatically get a DUI if your BAC is this high, it does not mean you can’t get a DUI with a lower BAC as well. If an officer believes that the alcohol in your system, however much it is, caused you to drive dangerously, you could face charges.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, our team is here to assist you. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation. We will review your arrest and advise you of your legal options. Don’t assume that you have no legal defense, even if you submitted to chemical testing. We have the experience you need on your side.