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By the numbers, the effects of a high BAC

In Texas, as in every other state, it is illegal to drive when the blood alcohol concentration level is 0.08 percent or higher. However, most people probably do not know how little alcohol it takes to reach that level.

Perhaps someone is accustomed to driving after having a few beers or a couple of mixed drinks, but there is such a thing as the law of averages. After considering the statistics, people may want to rethink the idea of drinking and driving.

DUI versus DWI

In the state of Texas, offenders receive a charge of driving under the influence, or DUI, if they are under the age of 21. The penalties for conviction include fines, community service, alcohol awareness class and license suspension of up to 60 days. The penalties escalate for drivers 21 or older who are found to have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, for they will be charged with driving while intoxicated under the Texas Penal Code. Those convicted of DWI are looking at much larger fines, license suspension or revocation and the possibility of prison time.

Physical effects

Alcohol adversely affects thinking, judgment and muscle coordination. The stomach and small intestine absorb the alcohol and from there, it moves into the bloodstream where it remains until the liver metabolizes it.

At a BAC level of 0.02 percent, a driver will experience some loss of judgment and a reduction in visual functions. At 0.05 percent, there will be a reduction in coordination, and it will become harder to steer. At 0.08 percent, judgment and reasoning will be impaired along with vision, hearing and reaction time, and the driver will have poor muscle coordination.

Statistics

According to the numbers compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, about one-third of the car crash fatalities across the country in 2016 involved drivers whose BAC level was 0.08 percent or higher, and 10,497 people died. 

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