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BAC Limits in Michigan DUI Cases

In Michigan, the legal blood alcohol limit for drunk driving is .08, although you may still be convicted of drunk driving if your BAC was below this threshold. Many people often ask, “How many drinks will it take for my blood alcohol content to reach .08?”

The answer depends on your particular body composition, as well as a number of other variables. The metabolism of alcohol is an essentially important component to understand how to defend DUI cases properly.

Body Composition and Alcohol Absorption

There are many physiological factors that play a role in determining how your body will be affected by alcohol. For example, men and women process alcohol differently, mainly due to differences in liver size and the amount of alcohol-eliminating enzymes as well as the percentage of body water that helps dilute alcohol.

Women also naturally have more body fat, which helps alcohol stay in the blood stream longer than in men. Because of these differences in body composition, a man and woman of the same weight will feel different effects from the same amount of alcohol.

The average rate of elimination or a male driver is .015 per hour, for a female driver it’s .018 per hour, which is contrary to common sense. Most people think that women would eliminate slower and that’s why they get more drunk, more quickly. The reason that that happens is because women tend to have more fat in their bodies. So what ends up happening is that there are less places for the alcohol to go because the alcohol goes where the water is.

So the water in the blood tends to hold more of the alcohol, which increases the amount of alcohol that’s in the blood. On the other hand, women’s livers are larger as a percentage of body mass than men’s livers are, which is why they eliminate more quickly.

But remember, men are larger, and they have more water, so there are more places for the alcohol to go other than the bloodstream. So they are actually going to have less alcohol in their blood per unit time than women would.

So there is a play between the two different factors, and it becomes very complicated as far as the math is concerned. But we can rely on sort of the general rule which is a drink of alcohol, .025—elimination, generally speaking, .015.

Other Factors Affecting BAC

There are a number of other factors that can affect the rate at which your body absorbs and metabolizes alcohol. These factors include:

  • The rate at which you drink (number of drinks per hour)
  • The amount of food you consumed prior to drinking
  • Any medications you may be taking
  • The time of day
  • Smoking
  • Taking birth control pills
  • Being overly fatigued

Units of Alcohol and BAC

The best way to monitor alcohol consumption is by units, not drinks. One unit of alcohol is equal to:

  • 5-6 ounces of 12% wine
  • 12 ounces of 5% beer
  • 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor

Generally, one unit of alcohol will raise your BAC by .02 to .025.

High BAC OWI

In Michigan, you may be charged with high BAC OWI if your blood alcohol content is shown to be .17 or higher. If convicted of this charge, you will face increased fines and penalties, including a longer jail sentence.

Legal Limit for Minors

Michigan is a “zero-tolerance” state when it comes to underage drinking and driving. This means that if you are under the age of 21 and are found driving while have a BAC of .02% or more, you will be arrested and charged with drunk driving.

Legal Limit for CDL Holders

Commercial driver’s license holders are held to stricter standards than other drivers. The legal BAC limit while driving a commercial vehicle is .04%. CDL holders also should be aware that an OWI conviction in a non-commercial vehicle could have implications on their commercial driving privileges.