It’s a common misconception that there is a safe amount of drinking you can do before driving. One survey found that 69% of people admit to driving after drinking some alcohol, with about 65% believing they are fine to drive after one or two drinks. 

It’s not illegal to drive in Texas with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.07% or less, but it is illegal to do so while impaired by any amount of alcohol, and you do not need to be at or over the legal limit to be impaired. No matter how sober you feel, any amount of alcohol can affect your ability to drive and even make it harder to judge your own impairment. 

That’s why drunk drivers are often in denial or surprised about their blood alcohol content (BAC) when they are arrested or end up in the emergency room. They are often more drunk than they believe. 

Understanding Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

BAC is the percentage of alcohol in the blood 30 to 70 minutes after drinking. A person’s BAC can range from 0.0% to 0.40% and higher. By 0.40% blood alcohol concentration, most people are in a coma with a high likelihood of death caused by respiratory failure. 

A blood alcohol concentration of 0.10% means you have one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood. 

Blood alcohol content is affected by: 

  • Sex assigned at birth
  • Number of drinks
  • Rate of alcohol consumption
  • Body weight and composition
  • Enzyme production
  • Medications
  • Food consumption

Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently. Women tend to get intoxicated faster and have less alcohol dehydrogenase to metabolize alcohol. A higher percentage of body fat can result in a higher BAC compared to someone with low body fat with the same amount of alcohol. Eating, especially close to the time of drinking, can lower peak BAC.

A BAC calculator can help you estimate your BAC based on your weight, sex, and alcohol consumption. 

In Texas, drivers can be cited for driving while intoxicated (DWI) when a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For drivers 21 and under, there is a zero-tolerance policy. A BAC higher than zero is enough to be cited for DWI. 

You do not need to be at the legal limit in Texas to be charged with a DWI, though. If the officer believes you were too impaired to drive safely because you were drinking, you can be charged with DWI, even if you are below the legal limit.

The misconception that one drink doesn’t impair driving is not just false; it’s dangerous. Your driving abilities are impaired before you feel buzzed, let alone drunk. You might be under the legal limit after one drink, but that amount of alcohol can still affect your ability to drive while you feel sober. 

This is why Texas law allows officers to cite drivers for DWI even with a BAC below the legal limit. 

How Alcohol Affects Driving Abilities

Even seemingly negligible amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to concentrate, process information, react quickly, and make sound decisions. These effects are compounded the more you drink. 

Here is how your driving is likely affected based on BAC or the standard number of drinks. Keep in mind this is a generalization. Many factors can influence your impairment and blood alcohol content, including sex, food consumption, and body composition. 

  • Two drinks (0.02% BAC): Reduced judgment, decline in visual processing, and inability to perform two tasks at once
  • Three drinks (0.05% BAC): Difficulty steering, slower response time, reduced concentration, and trouble tracking moving objects
  • Four drinks (0.08% BAC): Reduced concentration, short-term memory loss, and impaired speed control, perception, and self-control
  • Five drinks (0.10% BAC): Deteriorated reaction time, slurred speech, reduced ability to brake when necessary or maintain lane position 

Beyond 0.10% BAC, you will experience gross motor control impairment. 

Contact an Experienced Attorney After a Car Accident Involving Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence is always a negligent action. If you have been injured by someone who was drinking and driving, they should be held accountable. 

A personal injury lawyer can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for the injuries you suffered. Contact Anderson Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation with a Fort Worth car accident attorney. We can help you understand your legal options for holding the drunk driver responsible.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Texas

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth or Dallas and need legal help, contact our car accident lawyers at Anderson Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve Tarrant County, Dallas County, and throughout Texas.

Anderson Injury Lawyers – Fort Worth Office
1310 W El Paso St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
(817) 294-1900

Anderson Injury Lawyers – Fort Worth Office (Secondary)
6618 Fossil Bluff Dr # 108, Fort Worth, TX 76137
(817) 631-4113

Anderson Injury Lawyers – Dallas Office
408 W Eighth St Suite 202, Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 327-8000

Anderson Injury Lawyers – Dallas Office (Secondary)
6301 Gaston Ave suite 610, Dallas, TX 75214
(469) 457-4711