Many people face the fear of being charged with drunk driving or operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) when pulled over by an officer after having a couple of drinks of alcohol here in Massachusetts.

Officers commonly will use a breath test or blood alcohol test to decide whether your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08%. But what effect does alcohol have on you when your BAC registers at specific amounts?

Gauging the effects of BAC levels

When you drink, your stomach and small intestine absorb alcohol and send it into your blood. Your liver then processes it but can handle only so much each hour. Thus, the more you drink, the higher your BAC goes. WebMD says the effects vary depending upon your weight, gender and age, so smaller women feel the effects more quickly. Here are the typical effects at various levels:

  • 0.03%: While you still feel in control, you’re getting a bit buzzed and your vision and judgment can be affected.
  • 0.05%: You may feel relaxed and less inhibited but steering your vehicle and focusing on objects is getting harder.
  • 0.08%: You are legally drunk and probably have a difficult time walking, talking and seeing clearly while your reaction time, judgment and control are affected.
  • 0.10%: Balance, judgment and reaction time are much worse, and you are likely slurring your words and can’t think clearly.
  • 0.20%: At this stage, you could be extremely confused, experience blackout or begin to vomit.
  • 0.40%: This is a life-threatening level which could cause coma and death and requires immediate medical attention.

Protect your rights if charged with OUI

While the best defense against a drunk driving charge is to avoid drinking and driving, results from breath and field sobriety tests are often flawed. OUI convictions can create massive personal and financial consequences, including fines and other court costs, jail time, lost wages, loss of driving privileges and massive insurance rate increases.

An experienced defense attorney here in Massachusetts who used to prosecute OUI cases will aggressively challenge test results and whether an officer had probable cause to stop you in the first place. Your attorney will use their experience on both sides of the courtroom to help you achieve the best outcome possible.