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How BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is Measured

How BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is Measured

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one drink is equivalent to 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor (40% alcohol), 12 ounces of beer (4.5% alcohol) or 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol.) But just how many drinks does it take to reach 0.08%? In a city such as Bend, where beers tend to be much higher than 4.5% alcohol, you have to know what contributes to your BAC.

At Donahue Law Firm, we understand that everyone likes to have a good time, but we believe in doing so in a safe way. Because everyone is different, alcohol will affect everyone differently — someone who has been drinking consistently all their life may have a higher tolerance for alcohol, while someone else who just turned 21 will have a lower tolerance, and different body types also play a role in the BAC levels.

If you or someone you know has been pulled over for driving under the influence of intoxicants, contact the DUI attorneys at Donahue Law Firm. We’re here to help guide you through the legal process.

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How BAC Is Measured

How Quickly You Drink

The liver metabolizes alcohol at approximately one drink per hour. If your drinking pace supersedes over one drink an hour, the more likely you are to become intoxicated quickly. The liver is unable to keep up, circulating alcohol into your bloodstream. The more alcohol in your blood, the more intoxicated you become, hence raising your BAC.


A lower body weight generally makes for a higher concentration of alcohol in the body. On the contrary, higher body weight will process alcohol slower than someone who is petite. Fatty tissue doesn’t contain as much water as lean muscle tissue. Therefore, a person with a higher body fat percentage will contain more alcohol in their bodies.


SexMen and women process alcohol very different from each other. Men are usually larger in build, therefore having more blood volume and less body fat than women. This allows men to consume more and feel the effects of alcohol slower than a woman.

In addition, dehydrogenase is an enzyme that breaks down alcohol. Men have a higher quantity of this enzyme in their body than women.

Food in System

While food does not absorb alcohol, it definitely slows down the process. If there is food in someone’s stomach, alcohol is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. The alcohol will still take effect, but at a slower rate.

Size of a Drink

Living in a “beer town” such as Bend, it is important to know that while it is illegal for a bartender to overserve, it still happens all of the time. Beers can range anywhere from 3% to 25% out here! If you’ve only had “one drink” but it was a 15% barrel-aged beer, then chances are, you’re probably over the legal limit. Same goes for ordering doubles. While a cocktail might call for one shot, your server might be “hooking it up” and over serving.

There are several other factors such as hormones, mixing medications and booze, tolerance, stress, etc., that will contribute to your BAC. While you may never know exactly when your BAC is at a 0.08%, it’s always better to play it safe. Take an Uber, Lyft, or a cab before getting behind the wheel.

Oregon state takes drinking and driving seriously, so if you have been pulled over and were charged with a DUI, your best chance at keeping your driver’s license is to contact a DUI attorney. The lawyers at Donahue Law Firm have been practicing law and fighting DUI cases for years, so you can trust that we have the knowledge and experience to fight for your case. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

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