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Learn how to know your BAC -- Blood Alcohol Concentration


BAC or Blood Alcohol Contentration is the standard way of measuring the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. BAC is defined as "grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood". In practice, a "BAC of .10" means 100 mg. of alcohol in each 100 ml. (milliliters) of blood, a BAC of .20 means 200 mg. of alcohol in 100 ml. of blood, and so on.

The BAC a person will reach depends upon their gender, weight, what type of drink they are drinking, and the amount of time during which alcohol is consumed, and quite a few other variables. You can see the relationship between these variables by going to an interactive BAC calculator here. Try entering the information from the last time you used alcohol, and see what estimated BAC you reached.

The effects of a certain amount of alcohol on a person's behavior depends upon a number of variables (Were you drinking rapidly or slowly? Did you have an empty or full stomach? Are you a new drinker, or an experienced drinker? Were you taking other drugs at the same time?). If you are going to use alcohol, it is a good idea for you to know what BAC levels you are reaching. Knowing when you usually have your first drink, and when usually you have your last, and how many you usually have in between, you can use the BAC calculator above to estimate how many drinks it takes for you to reach a BAC of .10% (Legally drunk), and how many to reach a BAC of .40% (A BAC that will result in death about 50% of the time). Those are two important landmarks to be aware of. You can also calculate your BAC for a usual episode of drinking to see what BAC you usually reach.

The AOD Counselor uses an interractive "intoxiclock" to calculate estimated BAC. If you woudl like to learn more about your own BAC, feel free to schedule a confidential appointment at the Counseling Center.

Penalties for driving after drinking

New York State law provides for specific penalties for driving after using alcohol. To see what the penalties would be for you go here.

What are your chances of having an accident?

The second most common way for you to die from alcohol is from alcohol overdose, when your BAC nears .40% and you stop breathing. That happens to about 50 college students each year. The most likely way for you to die from alcohol, however, is by having an accident. The most common cause of death for college aged people is from accidents. (The next is from homicide, and the third is from suicide.) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined the amount of increased risk for having accidents, for various BAC levels. When Princess Diana was killed in a high speed car crash, it is reported her professional driver had a BAC of .17.


BAC Level


Increased risk of accident


BAC .02 to .04


1.4 times


BAC .05 to .09


11.1 times


BAC .10 to .14


48 times


BAC .15 and above


380 times

Remember too, not all serious accidents are car crashes. College students are fatally injured as a result of falling out of windows, down stairwells, and off porches and roofs.