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Understanding how alcohol impairs mind and body

For many people, having a drink out with friends or a glass of wine with dinner is a normal course of social events. But if you don't understand how alcohol can react with your body, you risk getting behind the wheel with a higher-than-legal blood alcohol content, and that puts you at risk for facing a drunk driving charge.

For a man weighing 160 pounds, about two average alcoholic drinks brings blood alcohol levels to around 0.02 percent. A drink for this purpose is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as 12 ounces of beer that is rated 5 percent alcohol, 8 ounces of malt liquor rated at 7 percent, 5 ounces of wine rated at 12 percent, a single shot of 40 percent liquor or a similar beverage. Common effects of this much alcohol include relaxation and altered mood, and the alcohol could lead to a decline in attention and visual function while driving.

By four drinks, BAC levels reach 0.08 -- the last legal BAC level for Wisconsin drivers. At this point, muscle coordination is suffering and a driver has a harder time understanding what might be dangerous. He or she also has an impaired ability to process information, control speed and concentrate. Some people also experience short term memory loss. All of these impairments make it more difficult to drive safely.

By 5 or more drinks, a 160-pound male is well over BAC levels and can be arrested for drunk driving if he is stopped and tested. It's important to remember that everyone's body reacts differently, though, so someone who is smaller in stature might only need to have one or two drinks to reach an illegal BAC level.

If you are charged with a DUI, you do have rights and options for defense. Even if your BAC levels are measured and officers determine you are above the limit, there are options for defense. Speaking to someone about those options early can help you from making mistakes that could limit your ability to defend against the charges.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)," accessed Sep. 18, 2015

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Hertel Law, S.C.
4330 Golf Terrace, Suite 108
Eau Claire, WI 54701

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