Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
What is BAC?
The proportion of alcohol to blood in the body is expressed as Blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is a figure that is directly correlated to the amount of alcohol you have had to drink and inversely to your weight.
As per the Indian Motor Vehicle Act 1988 driving with a BAC level of 30mg per 100 ml (0.03% of Blood alcohol content – international measure) is illegal anywhere in India. Some of the factors affecting the BAC level include body weight, type of drink, time span of consumption of alcohol, stomach contents etc.
Factors that affect blood alcohol level in the body:
- The number of drinks and kind of mixer used
As you increase the number of drinks per hour, your blood alcohol level steadily increases. When carbonated mixers (such as tonic water or club soda) are used, the body absorbs alcohol more quickly.
- Strength of alcohol
Proof or percentage in the drink.
- Your weight, sex, age
- The more you weigh, the more water is present in your body, which dilutes the alcohol and lowers the blood alcohol level.
- Women’s bodies usually have less water and more fat than men’s bodies. Alcohol does not go into fat cells as well as other cells, so women tend to keep more alcohol in their blood than men do. Also, a woman’s hormones may affect the breakdown of alcohol.
- One drink raises the blood alcohol level of an older adult or a young teenager more than it does for a young adult
- Eating Habits
Food in the stomach absorbs some of the alcohol. The blood alcohol level will be higher if you do not eat before or during drinking.
- Other medicines or drugs
A person who drinks alcohol and takes certain medicines, such as sedatives (tranquilizers), may feel more effects of alcohol. Also, a person who uses other drugs, such as marijuana, will feel the effects of both drugs and alcohol more than if the drugs were used separately.
- Alcohol Tolerance
- Doing something repeatedly in association with alcohol consumption can lead to a learned or ‘behavioral’ tolerance which reduces the alcohol induced impairment in doing that particular task. However when something unexpected occurs the tolerance acquired for that particular task is rendered useless.
- Eg: A driver who has developed a behavioral tolerance to drive a familiar car over a particular route under routine circumstances may drive without being involved in a crash despite having a drink or two. However as soon as a new factor is introduced for example a detour or an unexpected situation such as a bicycle darting in front of the car – the risk of crash would be the same as for any other Drunk driver.
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