You have probably heard that in Atlanta (and everywhere else in the United States) when driving after consuming alcohol, "the legal limit is .08". But what exactly does that mean?
The legal limit refers to the a person's blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (BAC). When blood alcohol levels are measured, the resulting number (such as .08) refers to the grams alcohol per one-tenth of a liter (dL) of blood. A person's BAC is usually measured by testing breath, blood or urine using standardized measurement tools and procedures. The most common tool used by law enforcement for roadside DUI investigation is a breathalyzer machine.
The Legal Limit for DUI
The legal limit was established after scientific tests were conducted to determine just what effects a person experiences after drinking various amounts of alcohol. These tests found that when an individual's BAC reaches .08, his or her concentration, depth perception, glare recovery, and peripheral vision become impaired. Because all of these skills are necessary for someone to be a safe driver, a person who is over this limit is not permitted to operate a vehicle.
There is no standardized amount of alcohol that will put someone "over the limit". Reaching the legal limit can be different for everyone. First and foremost, an individuals bodyweight has a significant impact on how many drinks they can consume before hitting the legal limit. For example, a woman weighing 120 pounds could drink 3 drinks (a bottle of beer, standard glass of wine, or shot of liquor) in 1 hour and would have a BAC around .11, which is nearly 50% over the legal limit. However, a 220 pound man could drink the same 3 drinks in one hour and would probably have a BAC around .06, which is under the legal limit for most drivers. It is important to remember that bodyweight is significant in determining how quickly a person could reach the legal limit, but it is not the only factor. Your metabolism is an important factor and can greatly influence how quickly alcohol is absorbed into and excreted out of your blood. In addition, there could be other factors, such as prescription medications or health conditions that can have an effect on how your body handles alcohol.
The Legal Limit for Atlanta Underage and CDL Drivers
The legal limit is NOT the .08 for every driver! In Atlanta (and everywhere else in the state of Georgia), for drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit is .02. This is basically any amount of alcohol in your blood beyond the trace amounts that can be caused by mouthwash and products containing alcohol. This limit has been set by the state of Georgia as part of a 'zero tolerance' philosophy towards underage drinking and driving.
For all drivers operating with a CDL (Commercial Driver's License), the legal BAC limit is .04. This is the standard for every state in the United States, and is governed not by state law, but by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The limit is set lower for this group of drivers because they pose to the general public are seen as higher than the risks posed by other impaired drivers. For example, an elementary school bus driver or a truck driver transporting dangerous chemicals have the potential to cause an extreme amount of damage to the general public.
If you were found to have a BAC over the legal limit, give Lawson and Berry a call. When we talk, we will go over what happened during your arrest, what tests you took, how the results could impact the charges and penalties you can face, and decide on the best route for moving forward.