Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the main factor in Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases. A high BAC level can impair you in various ways, including motor control, making driving unsafe. While getting a ticket for DUI is still possible even if your BAC is below the legal limit, especially if the consumption of alcohol is combined with prescription medications, BAC is often the primary factor when an officer arrests you for DUI.
The best way to avoid a Colorado DUI is not to drink and drive. However, there are many cases where you may have had a drink while out and want to ensure you have waited the appropriate period of time and are good to drive before getting behind the wheel. Knowing whether or not you can trust an online BAC calculator after enjoying mixed drinks can be critical to helping you avoid unsafe driving and a DUI.
How do You Calculate Your BAC?
Online BAC calculators vary in the information they use to calculate the alcohol level in your blood and how reliable they are in the accurate estimation of your BAC. Some of the information that may be requested by a BAC calculator to determine your approximate blood alcohol content level includes:
- Your biological sex
- Your height
- Your body size and body weight
- The number of drinks you consumed
- The type of drink you consumed
- The size of the alcoholic drinks
- The alcohol by volume of the drinks
- The time you took to consume the drinks (the number of drinks of alcohol per hour)
- Whether you ate before, during, or after drinking or if you were drinking on an empty stomach
Is a BAC Calculator Accurate?
The accuracy of a BAC calculator varies depending on the individual calculator. Generally, the more information a BAC requests from you, the higher the accuracy rate is likely to be. The majority of online BAC calculators utilize what is known as the “Widmark equation” to calculate the blood alcohol content.
With the Widmark equation, the average uncertainty rate is around 20%. That means the number you receive could be up to 20% above or below the true number.
What Is the Legal Limit for Driving?
Throughout most of the United States, the legal limit for BAC while operating a motor vehicle is .08%. However, this number is lower in a variety of situations. Some additional legal alcohol limits include:
- .05% in Utah
- .04% for commercial drivers
- .00%-.02% for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, depending on the state
Additionally, you could face an enhanced penalty, including additional jail time and larger fines if your BAC is particularly high. Depending on the state, a BAC of .10%-.20% can result in an enhanced penalty.
Even if you are under the legal limit, you could still be charged with a DUI if you were driving recklessly after consuming any amount of alcohol.
Can Using a BAC Calculator Help Me in Court?
Having used a BAC calculator to determine your blood alcohol concentration before driving is not an excuse that is going to hold up in court. With the inaccuracy of these tools, arguing that your BAC was under the legal limit based on an online blood alcohol calculator will not be effective. The court will pay much more attention to your breath alcohol concentration as measured by a breathalyzer or your alcohol to blood ratio as determined by a blood test than your potential blood alcohol content determined by an online calculator.
In fact, claiming that you used a BAC calculator before driving to make sure you were okay to drive may have the opposite effect. Your use of this tool may suggest to the court that you knew it might not be safe for you to drive, so you used the calculator to see if you would pass a breathalyzer test if stopped by police.
Am I Okay to Drive if a BAC Calculator Says I’m Below the Legal Limit?
You should never trust a BAC calculator to tell you whether you are safe to drive. Aside from the fact that these tools are not highly accurate, being below the legal limit does not necessarily mean you are safe to operate a motor vehicle. If you have any questions about whether or not you should get behind the wheel, it is best to call a cab.
Driving under the influence poses a risk to your safety and the safety of others. You can still face serious legal ramifications even if you are not involved in an accident.
A BAC calculator can be an interesting tool to help you understand how consuming alcoholic beverages can affect your intoxication level. However, these tools should never be used to determine your ability to operate a motor vehicle. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, a Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer from Schwaner Law can help you understand your legal options.