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Impairment: Know the rates of impairment in people

Although .08% is the legal limit for alcohol in your blood while driving, this limit doesn't indicate that .08% is the first time when you'll be impaired. Impairment starts much earlier, and you may notice the effects of alcohol long before you get close to a .08% BAC.

How alcohol affects you depends on a number of factors, but there are some general explanations for how alcohol will affect you at certain percentages. Here's more about what you should know.

The effects of alcohol at specific BAC levels

While everyone is different, these are the average effects seen at specific BAC levels:

  • .02% to .03%: Slight euphoria with mild relaxation. Some may feel lightheaded or have a loss of shyness.
  • .04% to .06%: A feeling of well-being may envelop the user. There may be minor impairments of memory and reasoning. Judgment is also slightly impaired. Behaviors and emotions may become exaggerated.
  • .07% to .09%: Impairment is present in everyone who drinks. Typical driving skills are impaired due to a reduction in balance, hearing and speech. Some may feel euphoric.
  • .1% to .12%: Hearing is impaired, speech may be slurred, reaction times are reduced.
  • .13% to .15%: Obvious intoxication with severe impairment.

Above this, impairment continues to become more severe. If a BAC reaches .45% or higher, the majority of people would die from alcohol poisoning.

These are explanations of how alcohol can affect your body. Knowing this, it's important to have your BAC as close to zero as possible if you intend on driving. That way, you can help avoid a crash.

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