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
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
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.
Increased risk of accident
BAC .02 to .04
BAC .05 to .09
BAC .10 to .14
BAC .15 and above
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.