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Know Your Limits: An In-Depth Look at Blood Alcohol Content

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Michigan Lawmakers Say State’s Legal BAC Limit Will Remain at .08

For now, Michigan lawmakers have decided to keep the state’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for legally operating a motor vehicle at .08. In 2003, the Michigan Vehicle Code was amended to lower the legal driving limit from 0.1 to .08 after research provided proof that even small amounts of alcohol can impact a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle, putting themselves and others at risk of a crash injury or fatality.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risk for a single vehicle crash increases eleven times from a BAC of .08 to one of .1, and while a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 is the legal cut-off for drunk driving, a BAC as low as .04 can impair driving abilities. Recent data collected by Michigan State Police has also shown that with the lower legal limit, the number of crashes involving alcohol has decreased since the original 2003 enactment of the lower limit.

Those who choose to drive drunk often have impaired decision-making skills and slower reaction time but are more likely to engage in other unsafe behaviors while behind the wheel. This increases the odds of an accident due to a drunk driver who may also be speeding, distracted, otherwise unfocused. In 2016, Michigan had 271 alcohol-involved traffic fatalities and 32,610 drunk driving arrests.

How BAC is Calculated?

Knowing how much you can drink and stay below the legal BAC to drive will vary based on your gender, weight, metabolism and what or how much food is in your body since everyone absorbs and metabolizes alcohol at different rates.

You can calculate your BAC once you have these numbers on hand.

  1. Ounces of beverage consumed: 1 beer = 12 oz. Glass of wine = 5 oz. / 1 shot = 1.5 oz.
  2. Your Weight (lbs)
  3. Percentage of alcohol in beverage: 1 beer = 4-7% / Glass of wine = 11-13% / 1 shot = 40%
  4. Hours spent drinking.

Although we don’t recommend using a BAC calculator to provide an estimate of BAC, nor should you rely on it to make your driving decisions, there are several free BAC calculators online to help show you how much alcohol may be in your system. We suggest these calculators be used for educational purposes only and rather you make it a priority to find other reliable ways to take care of yourself and be responsible while drinking. First, after a couple of drinks, you should always assume you are not equipped to operate any kind of vehicle. Instead, you should know your limits, keep track of how much alcohol you have had, and make sure you take the following steps at the beginning of the night, because by the end of the night, they may just save your life.

  • Know your plan for getting home after a wild night and use it. Whether you have a friend, Uber Detroit, or a designated driver take you home, it’s important to already have key contact information and a sober commitment to using your plan if you need it.
  • As a backup plan, know what your public transportation options are at the location where you will be. A bartender or bouncer may be able to help with this if you find yourself in a difficult situation.
  • Park your car in a location where you will feel comfortable leaving it overnight if you find yourself unable to drive.
  • Remember that you are most responsible for your actions.

Understanding The Consequences of Drunk Driving 

Knowing that choosing to drive while under the influence could cause a serious tragedy to a person and their family should be enough to stop you from doing so in the first place. If not, a review of the penalties for an alcohol-related driving offense in Michigan may be enough. Local and State police say making drivers aware of the state’s strict drunk driving laws and charges may help cut down on drunk driving incidences. Some of these charges may include:

  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) means that because of alcohol or other drugs, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired.
  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) includes three types of violations:
    • Alcohol or drugs in your body substantially affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
    • A blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
    • High BAC means the alcohol level in your body was at or above 0.17. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
  • Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD) means having even a small trace of these drugs in your body, even if you do not appear to be intoxicated or impaired.
  • Under Age 21 Operating With Any Bodily Alcohol Content (Zero Tolerance) means having a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07, or any presence of alcohol in your body (other than alcohol that is consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony).

If you are responsible for causing death or serious injury to someone while operating while intoxicated or with any presence of drugs, you can face felony charges that can result in up to 20 years imprisonment and fines up to 10,000 – or both.

Make the Smart Choice, Don’t Drive Impaired

The courts, law enforcement, state and local governments, as well as a number of private organizations and agencies, have been working tirelessly to reduce and prevent the thousands of injuries and deaths that result from drunk (or impaired) driving. Do your part and follow the law, don’t drive after drinking – and please share this message with others.

The attorneys and staff at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm care greatly about our clients and members of the communities we serve. If something does happen and you are injured in a drunk driving accident, call us for help. Our drunk driving accident lawyers will be ready to support you in your time of need and healing, and we can help decrease the financial pressures on your family by aggressively pursuing a personal injury claim on your behalf. Call us today to get started with your FREE initial consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE.