Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is one-way law enforcement determines who is too drunk to get behind the wheel. BAC also indicates a person’s level of inebriation, which directly correlates to how much control they have over their vehicle.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BAC effects become more severe with every drink. Here are a few ways a higher BAC can increase the risk of an accident.
Problems with coordination
Most people will have a BAC of .05% after about three drinks. While still under the legal limit, a .05% BAC will hinder a person’s driving ability. This is often most evident in poor coordination, which makes things like steering or signaling more complicated. The driver will also experience diminished alertness, which affects their response to unexpected road hazards.
Loss of short-term memory
After four drinks, a BAC of .08% is likely. Along with the legal ramifications, this level of inebriation can cause major faults when driving. Impairment of perception and self-control is possible, while concentration and reaction time can decrease. The driver will also have a hard time maintaining a safe rate of speed.
Diminished thinking and cognition
By five drinks, BAC levels can elevate to .10%. Control over the vehicle will deteriorate even further, which puts all drivers on the road at risk. Inebriated drivers will also have a harder time thinking through decisions, which can result in collisions. Safe braking and lane positioning will also diminish.
It is also important to understand how standard drink sizes affect how drunk a person gets. For example, liquor is more potent than other types of alcohol, so the standard drink size for whiskey is a lot smaller than beer. That means a person can achieve a higher BAC quicker if they drink more than the standard drink size.