Blood alcohol level

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A person's blood alcohol level (BAL) (also known as blood alcohol concentration) is a figure calculated as every milligram of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood. For example, a BAL of .10 is 10 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood.[1] In the United States, a BAL of over .08 is sufficient for a presumption of guilt[2] though if the driver is under 18 then any amount of alcohol can be grounds for a citation. However, any amount of alcohol can impair driving,[3][4] so the only way to remain totally safe from alcohol's effect is to refrain from drinking before driving.

A BAL of .4 is usually fatal.


  1. Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) Monitoring HabitSmart accessed June 24, 2007
  2. In 2019 Utah (a state heavily populated by Mormons who's religious beliefs do not allow for alcohol consumption) changed the legal BAL to 0.05,
  3. Alcohol's Effects Virginia Tech: College Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center accessed June 24, 2007
  4. In some jurisdictions a person can be charged with public intoxication even with a BAL below the legal limit, if the person is behind the wheel.