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You don't have to be drunk to be impaired

You may be among many other Florida residents who think that if you aren't drunk, you aren't impaired. You may think you can drive with a nice buzz because you aren't drunk. The truth is that you can be impaired even if you aren't drunk, and you could find yourself in the back of a police car.

When an accident occurs, police may suspect a driver of being impaired. You may even hear that driver saying that he or she only had a couple of drinks, and that there is no way he or she is drunk. Even if that statement is true, that does not mean that impairment didn't play a role in the crash.

The effects of your blood alcohol concentration

From the moment you ingest your first drink, the alcohol concentration in your blood begins to rise. You experience different effects as each drink circulates through your bloodstream. Researchers discovered the following effects of alcohol at different BAC levels:

  • BAC between .02 and .03: You may feel a bit relaxed and a little lightheaded, but your coordination does not suffer much at this point. However, you may be able to ask that attractive patron at the end of the bar out on a date since your inhibitions begin to disappear.
  • BAC between .04 and .06: You may feel even more relaxed now and your judgment begins to show signs of impairment. As your memory, reasoning and caution begin to lessen; your behavior and emotions begin to increase. You may not make the best decisions.
  • BAC between .07 and .09: At this point, you definitely show signs of impairment. Driving becomes much more difficult. Your vision, judgment and coordination are all compromised. Your ability to focus, pay attention and react diminishes. Even so, you probably think you are okay to drive. However, once your BAC reaches .08, you are drunk according to Florida law.

The situation only continues to go downhill the higher your BAC goes. By the time your BAC reaches .15, your chances of being involved in a fatal accident have increased to 380 times more than someone who did not drink any alcohol.

The science behind BAC

Your liver metabolizes alcohol, and it can only do its job so fast. The reason you get drunk is that the rate at which your liver can handle the alcohol doesn't change according to your drinking pace. It takes about an hour for your liver to deal with just one standard drink. The level of alcohol in your system hits it highest within about 30 to 45 minutes.

In fact, the more rapidly you drink the higher and faster your BAC rises. It takes time for that alcohol to make its way through your system, which is why many people's BAC remains high long after they finish drinking. If you felt like you were still drunk when you woke up the next morning, you probably were.

The legalities behind BAC

If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in an accident involving a driver with a measurable BAC, that driver may have been impaired even if the BAC was below the legal limit. Cases exist where prosecutors secured convictions against individuals for DUI even without a .08 or higher test result. In civil cases, the burden of proof is less than in a criminal proceeding, so the odds of establishing that impairment played a factor in the accident remain good.

Even a .02 BAC may contribute to an accident. Evidence that the other driver ingested even one or two drinks before getting behind the wheel could establish negligence. To find out whether that could be the case in your situation, you may turn to an experienced legal advocate who can help protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

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