What is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content, or Blood Alcohol Concentration, and is a widely used measure of the level of intoxication for an individual. BAC measures the weight of the alcohol in a predetermined volume of blood and is conveyed as a percent. For example, in the state of California if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is at 0.08 percent, that means that legally you cannot drive. That 0.08% measurement means that in your body there is 0.08 g of alcohol for every dL of blood.

How is BAC measured?

Blood Alcohol Content is generally measured using a breathalyzer. Breathalyzer is not a direct measurement of BAC, but rather an estimate based on the amount of alcohol in the breath. The only way to get a very accurate BAC measurement is to get a blood test done.

How Do I Estimate My BAC?

You can generally estimate your BAC based on how many drinks you have had over a certain amount of time, depending on your body weight. The general rule of thumb is one drink an hour, with one drink being defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz (a shot) of hard alcohol. However, BAC varies greatly based on a number of factors, including age, weight, gender, and tolerance. To get a rough estimate of your BAC go to http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/ or various other apps or websites.

What are Some BAC and Drunk Driving Myths?

Over time, a number of myths have sprung up regarding Blood Alcohol Content that make people believe it is “safe” to drive. However, most of these are misconceptions that are not true. Avoid these mistakes to keep yourself and everyone sharing the road with you safe.

1. A Cup of Coffee Sobers You Up

Coffee does not do anything to lessen the amount of alcohol in your body. Nothing can be done to make your body metabolize alcohol at a faster rate. All coffee does is give you a false sense of alertness and tricks your mind into thinking you are sober. However, you are still quite impaired and should by no means get behind the wheel.

2. A Cold Shower Sobers You Up

This is similar to the coffee myth mentioned above. The cold water does make you feel more alert and sober, but your Blood Alcohol Content will remain the same, thus making you a danger to yourself and everyone around you.

3. Mixing Different Kinds of Alcohol Gets You More Drunk

This one has little to no basis. If you drink several different kinds of alcohol, the only thing that matters is the proof or percent alcohol. The percent alcohol you ingest is what determines how drunk you get, in conjunction with how much food and water you consumed before drinking.

4. You Can Beat a Breathalyzer by Sucking on a Penny or Taking a Breath Mint or Mouthwash

Also, if you follow a rainbow you will find a giant pot of gold at the end. Sucking on a penny or taking a breath mint or mouthwash to beat a BAC test are both old wives tales that have no basis in reality. Sucking on a penny does nothing except expose the inside of your mouth to the myriad of disgusting and disturbing bacteria that are typically found on a penny. Gargling mouthwash can actually make you register a higher BAC reading, because many mouthwashes contain alcohol!

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at The Pearson Center in La Jolla

If you have an alcohol problem and need help, sign up for the alcohol treatment clinical research study at The Pearson Center. This study is looking for people with a drinking problem who are seeking help. If you or someone you know needs help beating alcoholism, give us a call at (858) 784-7867.