Blood Alcohol Concentration

Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration and Florida’s DUI Laws

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of alcohol within a person’s bloodstream. In Florida, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. A person’s BAC is a deciding factor in a drunk driving/DUI arrest and conviction. The severity of DUI penalties may increase depending on the suspect’s BAC.

There are several key physiological and environmental factors that impact a person’s BAC. Police officers and other authorities are authorized to use a handful of approved methods to test a suspect’s BAC. While these tests are not 100 percent accurate, they may be used as evidence in a DUI case.

Florida Standards for BAC and Legal Intoxication

A person with a BAC of.08 or higher is considered legally intoxicated in all states, including Florida. According to NBC Miami, in May 2013, The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that Florida and other states lower that limit to .05 in efforts to reduce drunk driving accidents. For now, the .08 limit stands.

It is worth noting that Florida practices a zero tolerance stance when it comes to underage drivers. Drivers ages 20 years and younger are considered under the influence with a BAC of .02 or higher.

How BAC is Measured in Florida

Police officers in Florida may use approved breath or urine tests to determine a DUI suspect’s BAC. In some cases, they may even request a blood test.

A common scenario might involve a roadside breath test – using a Breathalyzer or similar device – and a post-arrest urine test at a police station. Though these standardized tests are popular, there are instances where they produce inaccurate results, such as when equipment is poorly calibrated or a person suffers from certain medical conditions.

The Connection Between BAC and DUI Penalties 

A person who is charged – and convicted – of driving with a BAC of .08 or higher in Florida is subject to penalties that could range from six months to several years imprisonment, plus fines and loss of driving privileges. The severity of penalties is dependent upon previous convictions for similar crimes as well as whether any accidents, injuries, or deaths were caused by the DUI.

DUI suspects who are convicted of driving with a BAC of .15 or higher face stricter penalties that can include: 

  • fines of $1,000 to more than $4,000; and
  • jail time of nine months to one year for first and second convictions. 

Because BAC and DUI penalties are so closely linked, a DUI defense could call BAC testing results into question or argue to have them dismissed altogether.

Factors that Impact BAC 

A number of variables can impact a person’s BAC. This is why two people who are drinking the same amount of drinks at the same time can measure vastly different BACs.

Some of the factors that impact a person’s BAC include: 

  • number of drinks consumed per hour/rate of consumption;
  • strength of the drinks consumed (the proof or ABV);
  • person’s age and gender;
  • person’s weight;
  • any medications taken by the individual; and
  • presence of food in the stomach or lack thereof.

These are just a few of the factors that can impact a person’s BAC. If you have been arrested for DUI and wish to challenge your BAC results, speak to a defense attorney. Call 877-663-5110.

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