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Do you know what determines your level of intoxication?

How many alcoholic beverages do you have to drink before you become too drunk to drive?

The number is different for everyone. Figuring out how much it will take for you to become intoxicated will depend on a couple of surprising factors.

About your BAC

Your blood alcohol concentration level determines how alcohol consumption will affect you. That effect will depend on your gender, your body weight and how fast you consume your drinks. For example, a woman who weighs 100 pounds will have a BAC of 0.074 percent after she has two drinks in the space of an hour. If law enforcement stops her on suspicion of operating under the influence and she submits to a breath test, her BAC will test higher than a 100-pound man who has two drinks in the space of an hour: His BAC will only be 0.06 percent.

What to expect

Most men who have three standard drinks will have a BAC of about 0.06 percent. This is when the effects of imbibing alcohol begin to show, and when driving becomes riskier. Perception, coordination, alertness and the ability to make rational decisions will all suffer impairment. These effects will increase with each additional drink. When a man consumes as many as seven to eight drinks, his BAC will climb to 0.15 percent and his bloodstream will be dealing with the equivalent of about half a pint of whiskey.

The penalties

In the state of Massachusetts, as in every other state, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above. Drivers under the age of 21 can be convicted of OUI, or operating under the influence, with a BAC of 0.02 percent. Penalties for OUI are severe: As a first-time offender, you could lose your license for a year, pay up to $2,000 in fines and even face jail time of up to 30 months. These facts combined with knowing how alcohol affects you might make you think twice about whether to get behind the wheel. A good rule is always to overestimate your BAC level, not underestimate it.

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J. W. Carney, Jr. & Associates
20 Park Plaza
Suite 1405
Boston, MA 02116

Phone: 617-830-6760
Fax: 617-338-5587
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