There is no question that alcohol impairs judgment. The level of and when the effects of alcohol can legally be deemed as “impairment,” however, is not as cut and dry and is the center of DUI disputes in criminal courts every day. Below are common questions about blood alcohol level and impairment.

Am I Okay If My Blood Alcohol Level Is Less than the Legal Limit?

It is best not to press your luck. Studies have shown that even though you may be below the presumptively impaired limit, it is still very possible that you may be impaired, even at a blood alcohol level of .02. Your ability to operate a car, a boat, a commercial vehicle, an amusement ride, or a plane is subject to numerous factors aside from the quantity of alcohol you have consumed. Furthermore, many states have statutes that give police officers discretion in arresting an individual for driving while impaired. These laws make it possible to be arrested with blood alcohol levels well below .08.

At What Point Does Speed Control Become a Factor?

Speed control and your ability to concentrate are considered impaired when your blood alcohol level reaches .08. Any level below that will depend on other factors, such as:

  • Road conditions
  • How much you have had to eat
  • Time of day
  • How much sleep you have had

Other Factors That Impact Driving Ability after Drinking

The following play a huge role in impairment levels:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Drinking tolerance

How Many Drinks per Hour Can I Consume and Still Stay Below the Legal Limit?

The number of drinks you can consume in an hour will depend on many of the factors outline above. Generally, males who weigh 170 pounds can consume an average of 4 drinks in one hour and stay below the presumptive limit. Females with an average weight of 137 pounds can consume an average of 3 drinks in one hour and stay below the presumptively impaired limit. One drink is the equivalent of .54 ounces of alcohol.

Assuming the males and females weigh the same as the example above, generally, males can consume an average of 5 drinks in two hours and stay below the presumptively impaired limit while females still can only consume 3 drinks.

However, keep in mind that depending on the laws of your state, there may be a law that provides an officer may be arrest you even if you are below the presumptive impairment limit.

Seeking Legal Advice

If you are arrested for a DUI or DWI, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and what to expect from the criminal justice system.