Blood Alcohol Test

Blood Alcohol Test: What Happens, Results, and Legal Limits

A blood alcohol test is usually taken to determine the alcohol percentage in your blood. The breathalyzer is most commonly known as police officers use it to check whether you’re drunk driving. Even though these results are much faster, they are not as accurate as results derived from blood tests.

In this article, we take a deeper look into what happens during a blood alcohol test, the results, and legal limits.

Alcohol Testing

An alcohol test may be ordered to determine whether:

You have been driving while drunk. There’s a legal drinking limit for drivers above the age of 21 years which is .08. Drivers younger than this age are not permitted to drink or drive.

  • You are legally drunk. The legal limit for drinking in public varies from state to state.
  • You are in a treatment program that prohibits drinking but is drunk.
  • You have alcohol poisoning. This happens when your alcohol levels get extremely high. This can affect basic body functions like breathing, temperature, breathing, and heart rate.

Binge drinking, defined as five drinks for men and four drinks for a woman within two hours, is normally seen in young adults and teens. It raises the alcohol concentration within a short time.

During a lab test for blood alcohol concentration, professional health care takes a blood sample from a vein in your arm. This is done using a needle insertion in the vein and blood drawn to a test tube. Some people may feel a sting from the needle while others don’t. This is a simple process that takes less than five minutes. Other than a bruise at the area of needle injection, there is no other risk involved in a blood alcohol test. This website answers any question related to alcohol and health as well as things such as why different people react differently to alcohol.

Reasons why you would need a blood test for alcohol

There are two main reasons you’d need a blood alcohol test. These are medical and legal.

Legal reasons include when a police officer pulls you over and suspects you are drunk driving. Also, after a car crash, it is common practice for alcohol tests to be done to see if alcohol played a part in the crash. In this case, you are required to take a breath alcohol test which if you refuse, then a blood alcohol test is ordered.

Medical reasons include showing up at a hospital heavily drunk, confused, passed out, or emulating signs of alcohol intoxication. These include;

  • Difficulty with coordination and balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor judgment
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Seizure
  • Vomiting and extreme nausea

If taken to a hospital for other illnesses not related to alcoholism, medical professionals will also request a blood alcohol test to determine the best way to proceed with your treatment.

Alcohol Blood Test Results

Once your alcohol blood test is complete, the results will determine whether you are free to go home or not. If not, you might find yourself in front of a judge explaining your situation. However, if there is exculpatory evidence then your chances of going home sooner are quite high.

Your blood alcohol results are determined by the amount of blood alcohol content in your bloodstream. Blood alcohol results vary depending on the time they were taken. In most cases, the tests are most accurate if they are taken within a 6-12-hour window after your last drink. Typical results from a blood test for alcohol are as below:

  • Sober, which is when there is 0.0 percent BAC in your system.
  • Between 0.03 and 0.05, you will be less conscious of yourself, and your vision and judgment won’t be as accurate as when you are sober.
  • Legally intoxicated, when your BAC is 0.08 percent.
  • Impaired. In this state, which is 0.08-0.40 percent of BAC, you may be showing symptoms of alcohol intoxication. These may include slurred speech, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, and confusion among others.
  • Anything above 0.40 percent puts you at the risk of complications. In this state, your bodily functions are slowed. You might find yourself in a coma and the worst scenario, dead. This case is handled as an emergency.

If you have trouble understanding what your results mean, you might need to seek the help of an attorney with accurate lawyer knowledge.

Legal limit

alcohol test

In the US, across all states, the legal alcohol limit for adults above the age of 21 is 0.08. Anything above this is considered drunk driving. Even so, the best advice is if you’re going to drink, then avoid driving at all costs. If you’re out with friends, then have a designated driver for the night who doesn’t drink and will make sure that you get home safely. If that’s not possible, then leave your car at home and opt for a cab instead.

Different states have different laws regarding alcohol and your job. For example, in some states, the BAC for school bus drivers is below 0.02 percent. Anything above this is considered illegal and may lead to you losing your job if caught.

The Bottom Line

A blood test is usually taken to establish the amount of alcohol in your system. It may be ordered by a police officer, if you’ve been caught drunk driving or by medical practitioners if you are taken to a hospital and suspected of drinking. There are different legal limits for alcohol content in your body across the states in the US and they vary from state to state depending on your job. However, the legal limit for when driving is 0.08 across all states.

It is not wrong to indulge a little in alcohol, however, you should be aware of the harm that alcohol has on your body and your wellbeing in general. This article has taken a look at how a blood alcohol test is done, what the results mean, and the legal limit for alcohol intoxication.