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Penalties for driving under the influence

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2021 | DWI Defense |

The penalties for driving over the legal limit are strict. Along with fines, license suspensions and possible jail time, the life consequences can last a long time.

Although most people know it is illegal to drive drunk, many are unaware of how much alcohol it takes to reach the limit. There are numerous factors that affect blood alcohol content levels, and the number of drinks can vary widely from one person to another.

Potential penalties

According to FindLaw, the illegal BAC limit is .08 and higher, although it is .02 and higher for those under the age of 21. One of the inconvenient penalties of a DWI is an automatic license suspension, and the suspension time period varies based on if it is a first or subsequent offense. Another consequence is that the individual must attend an alcohol education program. Criminal penalties include fines up to $5,000, potential community service and potential prison time of up to 10 years.

Factors that affect blood alcohol levels

According to UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services, although some people may be able to drink three drinks before reaching .08, others may reach the limit with only one alcoholic beverage. A variety of factors affect how quickly the body absorbs and metabolizes alcohol, which affects BAC levels. Some of the factors include:

  • Sex
  • Weight and body fat
  • Consumption rate
  • Contents in the stomach
  • Medications and certain health conditions
  • Alcoholic beverages with carbonation

One misconception that some people have is that tolerance plays a role. The truth is, tolerance has no bearing on alcohol levels, so even if someone does not feel the effects of alcohol, their blood content may tell a different story.