Understanding BAC helps you drink responsibly.

Having a drink every once in a while is encouraged for most people. In fact, treating yourself to an occasional drink has been known to have some health benefits, provided that it is done in moderation. Medical journals have written extensively about such benefits, and they include the following:

  • Lowering your chances of developing and dying from heart disease
  • Possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)
  • Possibly lowering your diabetes risk

It must be stressed, though, that drinking must be moderate and should not exceed the daily recommended amount. And in case you are wondering, ‘moderate drinking’ is defined as having one drink per day if you are a woman, and two drinks per day if you are a man. This difference in the amount is because men tend to be larger than women, and their bodies are able to process alcohol differently. Hence, women may have higher amounts of alcohol content in their blood compared to men when tested.

"One drink" is quantified as such:

  • Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
  • Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
  • Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters).

In a place such as Florida, where drinks are almost always readily available and almost all restaurants offer alcoholic beverages on their menu, it is quite understandable that you, as a diner, would like to have a drink paired with your meal.

Risks of Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

In a previous post, we discussed, quite scientifically, the effects of alcohol on your body, ranging from small to excessive amounts. So, by now, you should already know how dangerous drinking and driving is. In the event that you do have a drink with your meal, take responsibility for your actions by taking an Uber or letting someone else who has not had a drink drive you home if you think you are too intoxicated to get behind the wheel. However, if you make a habit of driving after having "just" a couple of drinks with your dinner, thinking it would be safe and legal to do so, then it might be just a matter of time before you are pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence, more commonly known as a DUI. As a quick refresher, driving under the influence can result in the following:

  • Impairment of your senses;
  • Vehicular crash;
  • Property damage;
  • Spinal, traumatic injury, and other forms of bodily harm; or
  • Death.

If you are the at-fault party, a civil case for damages may be filed against you by the other party to the accident, especially if you are proven to have high levels of alcohol in your blood. The state of Florida may also reported a criminal charge against you even for minor accident for driving, or boating while drunk, which is illegal in Florida.

The measure the state uses to determine levels of intoxication does not necessarily reflect your perception of your ability to safely operate a vehicle. As a personal injury lawyer with years of experience as a DUI defense attorney, Coy Browning wants everyone to be aware of what the state considers to be drunk driving in order for you to make smart decisions when you have been drinking.

It Only Takes a Couple of Drinks to Reach a .08 BAC

What is the legal limit for alcohol? In the state of Florida, and across the rest of the country, a blood alcohol content or BAC of .08 percent or higher is considered intoxicated and hence legally impaired to operate heavy machinery such as driving a vehicle. BAC is defined as the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream at the time you take a sobriety test. As you can see in the charts on this page, the number of drinks it takes to get to a particular BAC depends on several factors, such as your gender, weight, how quickly you are consuming drinks, and if you have enough food consumption while you are drinking.

Drink Chart for Men

blood alcohol level florida for men

Drink Chart for Women

blood alcohol level florida for women

Source: College of Saint Benedict’s + Saint John’s


If you are a drinker or you know someone who drinks regularly, it is important to understand the legal limit for alcohol in Florida and remember the following:

  • The type of alcohol you drink does not matter. A 12-ounce beer, a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits, and a 5-ounce glass of wine all affect the body in the same way.
  • The rates at which women and men reach the BAC limit are quite different.
  • The average woman will likely reach the BAC limit and hence be unable to drive legally after having just two drinks in the span of just one hour.
  • The average man will reach a BAC of.08 percent after he has had three drinks in an hour, rendering him legally unable to drive a vehicle.
  • Food intake slows down the absorption of alcohol and prevents you from getting intoxicated too quickly. That being said, if you are not drinking with a meal or if you are drinking on an empty stomach, you will reach a higher BAC much faster than if you had eaten. The quality of food that you eat also has an effect on how quickly your body absorbs alcohol. A higher intake of food is recommended as it takes longer to be eliminated from the body.

While these charts make for a good general guideline, it still depends on you as an individual, as each of us reacts differently to alcohol and other substances. The chart does not take into consideration your individual body composition, your use of medication, your mood changes, or your personal metabolism rate. Therefore, your blood alcohol content level may, in fact, be slightly higher or slightly lower than the chart indicates for the number of drinks you consume.

What Should You Do If You Are Pulled Over for Drunk Driving

What if, after having dinner and a couple of drinks, you were bold enough to drive yourself home, and you were pulled over by the authorities as you are being suspected of driving under the influence? What if you were found to have high levels of alcohol in your blood? What happens if this was done in Florida? What should you do then?

  • The first thing to do is to remain calm. Acting disgruntled or panicking will in no way help you.
  • Pull over the side of the road as you are instructed and open your window to talk to the police.
  • Do not step out of your car unless you are being instructed to do so. Getting out of your vehicle without being asked to might lead them to suspect you even more.
  • Cooperate with the cops and do as they tell you, such as when they ask you to take a field sobriety test and blow into a breathalyzer. Do not fight with the police, or argue with them, as this will do more damage than good.

Once the substance abuse evaluation has been administered to you, and you do register a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, you will be deemed too drunk to drive, and will probably be arrested for this and taken to the detention center.

It is important that once you are detained, that you call your lawyer. Your lawyer will figure out how to get you out of detention and avoid DUI penalties if they can check the manner in which you were arrested to see if it was done in accordance with procedure or if any of your rights were violated.

Can You Dispute the Results of a BAC Test?

Many people who have been charged with a DUI in Fort Walton Beach think that they were sober enough to drive as they only had small amounts of alcohol. The police must have heard the excuse "I only had wine with dinner" at least a hundred times every month. While this may be true— while you only had "one drink," arguing with the authorities might be futile.

Using such excuses with the police will get you nowhere, but there are ways available to fight a DUI charge, particularly when a breathalyzer test is used in the field. A breathalyzer does not actually measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. Rather, it detects alcohol present in your breath and, based on previously established statistics, determines the typical BAC for someone with that amount of alcohol on their breath.

Breathalyzer results may be challenged in court based on the following:

  • Mechanical failure Breathalyzers are sensitive devices and must go through regular cleaning and maintenance in order to remain accurate. If there is a case against you for DUI in Florida, your lawyer can request the maintenance records for the device used to breath test you. From there, your attorney can be able to make a determination if your test results were in fact accurate in measuring your blood alcohol content.
  • Improper calibration Apart from regular cleaning and maintenance, each breathalyzer device must be checked and adjusted for accuracy on a regular basis. This is done by comparing the results generated by the machine against a known value and is called calibration. Your attorney can inspect the calibration record for the device used in your case, together with the record of cleaning and maintenance.
  • Human error The operator of the device must be properly trained in administering a breath test with a breathalyzer and must follow specific protocols when performing the test. Any variance from the proper handling and testing protocols could call the accuracy of the breath alcohol test and the integrity of the result into question.

Apart from challenging the result of a breathalyzer test, there are additional possible ways to fight a drunk driving charge. This includes challenging the manner in which you were stopped by the officer, challenging the accuracy of the breath test, the defamation of your character, challenging the constitutionality of your arrest, and many others. Your defense attorney will look at your case and develop the best possible defense.

How We Can Help

You might have just had a couple of drinks with dinner, but your BAC test might tell a different story. In order to protect yourself from the extreme penalties imposed in Florida for drunk driving, or claim charges when involved in a drunk driving incident, you must contact a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will study the facts and circumstances of your case to provide you with a better understanding of your situation. Your attorney will then come up with a defense strategy to try to get you acquitted of your charges or to at least get them reduced.

Call Us Now for a Consult

Being charged and convicted of drunk driving can haunt you for the rest of your life. It can affect you in ways you did not imagine, such as future employment prospects. Prevent this from happening by calling a defense attorney.

The Browning Law Firm protects the rights of those accused of DUI in Florida. Here, we have a team of lawyers and staff who have years of experience in dealing with DUI cases and protecting our clients’ rights. When you contact us, we will assess your situation and offer a plan for defending you. Don’t let a one-time mistake—or a chronic problem—affect your and your family’s future. Take action to protect your rights today.