A blood alcohol level is also called blood alcohol concentration or blood ethanol concentration. It is used to show individuals how much alcohol is in their bloodstream at a particular time. It is often used by police officers who suspect individuals of being legally drunk or who suspect underage individuals of drinking or by doctors who need to determine whether alcohol is causing a patient’s symptoms.
The Effects of Blood Alcohol Level
Blood alcohol levels are affected by numerous variables. Men can drink more than women can for a similar rise in blood alcohol level because women’s bodies are composed of less water and more fat than men’s are. Therefore, a person’s weight also affects blood alcohol levels because larger individuals have increased water levels. Other variables include the amount drunk per hour, the strength or proof of the alcohol, the amount of food already in the stomach and one’s age. Those who have eaten and those who are relatively young experience lower rises in blood alcohol level.
As blood alcohol levels increase, the person’s level of impairment rises. At a concentration of 0.02, a person will begin to feel relaxed. For most people, this is equivalent to one or fewer drinks. At 0.05, imbibers will notice that their reaction times are slowed and may not respond as quickly as they should. Most states consider 0.10 to be legally drunk; a person at this level has poor coordination and may have difficulty speaking. Death can occur at a level of 0.37 or higher.