Adam Woody Law

The Limitations of BAC Calculators and Charts

 A variety of free and readily available blood alcohol content (BAC) calculators and charts can help you approximate your BAC levels. But simplicity is not always a virtue. BAC calculators and charts have inherent limitations, and are usually accompanied by lengthy disclaimers. Some even include warnings regarding their accuracy. That’s because many factors that can affect your BAC are not considered in BAC calculator and chart estimates.

It’s important to understand that BAC calculators and charts can only provide an approximation of your BAC. You should never rely on them to determine whether or not it’s safe to drive.

Assumptions that Go Off the Charts

  • Serving SizeThe majority of BAC calculators and charts have predefined values for both alcohol serving size and alcohol content. For instance, a beer is 12 oz. and 4.5% alcohol content, a glass of wine is 4 oz. and 15% alcohol content, and a shot is 1.5 oz. and 40% alcohol content. If you consume a drink with a larger serving size and/or one that’s stronger than average, the calculator will underestimate your BAC.
  • Food – BAC calculators do not factor the amount of food in your stomach. Your BAC will rise faster when you consume alcohol on an empty stomach because there’s no food to slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Time – BAC calculators assume your alcohol consumption rate is consistent over a specified period of time. If you consume drinks more quickly than “one standard drink per hour,” your estimated BAC will be miscalculated.
  • Averages – BAC calculators use a formula based on average values such as the average amount of water in the body and in the blood, and the average metabolism rate. Individual factors that affect these values are not calculated, and therefore contribute to erroneous estimations.

Online BAC Calculators

Interactive online BAC calculators can quickly give you a rough idea of your BAC level, and even your degree of impairment. Most require you to enter four data points: weight, gender, the number of drinks consumed, and the amount of time you have been drinking. Once the data is submitted, a formula is used to calculate your BAC.

It’s important to understand that BAC calculators and charts can only provide an approximation of your BAC. You should never rely on them to determine whether or not it’s safe to drive.

Sample BAC Calculator
 

Source: The Original Blood Alcohol Calculator (http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/)

The accuracy and reliability of online BAC calculators are usually disclaimed in very strong terms. Rightfully, the disclaimers note that personal factors such as metabolism, health, medications, and recent consumption of food can not be taken into account. Without considering these factors, though, these tools are almost useless.

BAC Chart

BAC charts (or “alcohol impairment charts”) are also widely available. They are easy to follow and provide much of the same information offered by online BAC calculators.

Source: California Dept. of Motor Vehicles (www.dmv.ca.gov)

Here, too, the influence of personal variables make the BAC chart an inaccurate reference.

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Blood Alcohol Level Effects

 You’ve probably seen the scene before – a police officer having a driver attempt to walk a straight line after pulling him over for reckless driving. For them to have been pulled over, Blood Alcohol Level Effects their motor skills which caused them to do something to signal the police. Police are highly trained at recognizing drunk drivers, especially the ones that have substantial amount of alcohol in their system.

How are alcohol levels in the body measured?
In such situations, the driver’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration)is measured with a special tool called a breathalyzer. One’s BAC is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in one’s bloodstream or on ones breath. As a general rule, the higher one’s BAC, the more alcohol they have consumed. The more alcohol consumed, the more intoxicated the driver becomes. A BAC test measures the amount of alcohol, in grams, in 100 milliliters of one’s blood or 210 liters of one’s breath.

Is there a legal limit for one’s BAC?
All states define a BAC of over .08 percent as a crime, but severity of penalties may vary by state. Even if the driver does not consider themselves to be drunk, they are still an offender in the yes of the law and can be prosecuted.

Blood alcohol level effects by amount
Although one’s BAC is generally the most reliable way to estimate one’s level of intoxication, it is not spot on for every single person. A person’s intoxication levels can be affected by factors such their gender, height and weight, genetics, alcohol tolerance, and potentiating effects of medications and/or drugs.

Stage 1: 0.020-0.039%
At this level, the person becomes less shy than normal. They also feel a mild euphoria and/or feelings of comfort and relaxation. There may also be a faint sensation of light headedness.

Stage 2: 0.040-0.059%
Similar blood alcohol level effects to stage one, but more intense. Inhibitions are lowered and one’s judgement and caution are reduced. Memory and reasoning also begin to deteriorate.

Stage 3: 0.06-0.099%
Physical effects begin to intensify. The drinker may feel a slight loss of balance and may start to experience motor function impairment. Speech and vision are impaired. The drink feels a strong sense of euphoria. Reasoning and memory are further impaired.

Stage 4: 0.100-0.129%
The drinker’s speech is slurred, motor functions significantly impaired. All good judgement deteriorates. Their vision blurs, their peripheral vision is reduced, and their reaction time is lowered. Hearing is also impaired.

Stage 5: 0.130-0.159%
Euphoria begins to dissipate and is replaced by its opposite, dysphoria, a general feeling of feeling unwell. The drinker has difficultly walking without losing balance and speaking properly.

Stage 6: 0.160-0.199%
All feelings of euphoria are gone at this point, and the drinker may begin to feel nauseous and unwell.

Stage 7: 0.200-0.249%
A complete state of mental unawareness and confusion. The drinker may need assistance moving. Dysphoria and nausea predominate, and the drinker may vomit and even blackout.

Stage 8: 0.250-0.399%
When one’s BAC reaches this point, they have alcohol poisoning. They also may lose consciousness.

Stage 9: 0.40% and up
The drinker may enter a coma in sleep, possibly dying later due to respiratory arrest from the depressant effects of alcohol.

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Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Discusses the New Expungement Law

Governor Jay Nixon recently signed into law Senate Bill 588 which vastly expands the number of criminal offenses that can be expunged under Missouri’s expungement law.  What this means is that thousands of people with criminal records will be able to get their convictions and arrests expunged.  KOLR10 did a story this week in which criminal defense attorney Adam Woody was interviewed to provide input.  Click here to view the story.  Essentially, the new law will allow most felonies and nearly all misdemeanors and municipal ordinance violations to be expunged.  The prior expungement law allowed only a few minor offenses to be wiped away, but the new law allows most everything with the exception of dangerous felonies and sex offenses to be expunged.  For felonies, the offenses can be expunged 7 years after the completion of a prison sentence or a probation period, and for misdemeanors the period is 3 years after jail or probation.

Both the Missouri Office of Prosecuting Services and the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (of which Adam Woody serves as Treasurer), as well as legislators from both parties, worked collaboratively in this legislation.  We are pleased with the outcome, likely restoring civil rights and employ-ability to thousands.

The new law doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2018.

DWI and DUI Misbeliefs

COMMON MISBELIEFS

URBAN LEGENDS ABOUT DRINKING AND DRIVING

“If I have too much to drink, I can drink a lot of coffee to sober up quickly. Right?”

Ha. Tell us another one! Drinking a lot of coffee after drinking too much alcohol may, however, increase your discomfort through the need to use the bathroom while being transported to the jail on DUI charges. Only time reverses impairment.

“Will eating breath mints after drinking fool a police ‘breath test’?”

Eating mints will not affect your BAC level since it isn’t the smell of your breath, but the alcohol content, that’s measured. Using breath mints, however, may earn you points with the arresting officer if you normally have bad breath.

“Well, at least eating breath mints might fool the officer, right?”

Ha. Sure, police are really fooled when they see a combination of erratic driving behavior and powerfully minty breath. Yep, that one fools us every time. Get real.

“I’ve heard preparing yourself by eating certain foods before an evening of heavy drinking will help keep your sober. Is that true?”

That story has been around since before your grandparents were born. The only relation we’ve seen between what you eat before drinking and your drunkenness is that the more you drink, the more likely we are to find what you ate on your shirt, or on the floorboard of the patrol car.

“Ok, but if I eat a BIG meal before drinking, won’t that help keep me from getting drunk?”

How much you have eaten, and how recently, may have a small effect on how quickly or slowly the alcohol you consume will enter your bloodstream – but it won’t stop the alcohol from entering. If you drink too much, you will become intoxicated. There may be, however, a direct correlation between the size of your meal and how much of your meal may be found later in patrol cars and jail cells.

“Will splashing cold water on my face or taking a cold shower help sober me up?”

Splash away! And by all means, take a cold shower. It may make you cleaner, but it won’t sober you up or make you a safe driver. The deputies at the jail, however, prefer clean drunks and recommend showering prior to doing anything that will lead to your arrest, such as driving after you’ve been drinking.

“Will running around the block a few times sober me up enough to drive home?”

Exercise won’t sober you up any faster, but feel free to run around the block as many times as you like. The deputies at the jail ask us to remind you to shower after your long run and before you drive a car.

“They were serving a spiked punch, but I couldn’t even taste the alcohol in it. I can’t be drunk!”

Party-goer, beware. Fruit juices have the ability to mask the taste of alcohol. A fruit “punch” can contain a substantial amount of alcohol without the taste of the alcohol being noticed – but it will make you just as drunk as alcohol which you can taste in another kind of drink. A mild-tasting cup of punch at a party may contain more alcohol than any normal drink you would buy at a bar.

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Alcohol measuring wristband

BACtrack is a San Francisco company known for making breathalyzers for both law enforcement and ordinary people. But it won the $200,000 grand prize at a National Institutes of Health-sponsored competition for a different kind of blood alcohol monitor altogether: a wristband much like Fitbit and other fitness trackers that can measure BAC from your sweat. The device, called “Skyn,” detects alcohol using a fuel cell technology similar to that used by law enforcement. However, it’s less bulky and more discreet than existing equipment.

Skyn can’t exactly replace breathalyzers cops use, since it can take up to 45 minutes for alcohol to be transmitted through the skin. But authorities or researchers can use it to continuously monitor someone’s BAC levels. You can even get it yourself if you want to keep an eye on your drinking habits or want data to show the doctor later. The device can warn you if you’re drinking too much, especially if you’re driving. Plus, it can notify a family member if it detects alcohol in your system while you’re supposed to be on a quest for sobriety.

BACtrack’s entry bested eight other prototypes submitted to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The NIH division launched the Wearable Alcohol Biosensor Challenge in an effort to find discreet, non-invasive wearable technologies not just for use by authorities, but also by individuals. Among the eight, seven were similar wristband-type devices, while one was a tattoo that changes colors. Since the agency judged the entries based on accuracy, we’re guessing Skyn is the most precise among them all at this point in time.

According to Reuters, the company hasn’t submitted Skyn to the FDA for approval yet, but BACtrack says it’s releasing a limited quantity this fourth quarter. You can sign up on BACtrack’s website to get a notification when the wearable is ready for pre-order.

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