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A low BAC doesn't mean alcohol didn't cause a crash

If you are like other Fort Walton Beach residents, you may be under the impression that as long as your blood alcohol content remains below .08, it is safe for you to drive. Sadly, the state's identification of that BAC as the legal limit for drinking and driving is dangerously misleading.

From the first sip of an "adult" beverage, the alcohol begins affecting you. Many factors go into how much it affects you, such as your weight, height, age and gender, among other things. As their BAC climbs, most people experience similar changes. As you will see below, another driver could endanger you and others on the road well before reaching the legal limit.

What happens as BAC climbs

As you consume alcohol and your BAC rises, your ability to safely operate a vehicle becomes compromised. Below is a general outline of what happens at certain BAC levels up to the legal limit of .08:

  • At .02 to .03, your inhibitions begin to drop, you relax and you may experience mild euphoria.
  • At .04 to .06, inhibitions drop further, behavior becomes exaggerated and euphoria increases.
  • At .07 to .09, judgment becomes impaired, and balance and speech begin to show signs of impairment.

It's not difficult to realize that once your inhibitions begin to diminish, you tend to make decisions you wouldn't ordinarily make. As inhibitions decrease and euphoria increases, so does the danger to others. When BAC levels go beyond .09, individuals not only make bad decisions, but they also lose the ability to function. That is a bad combination behind the wheel.

You may not even realize that you share the road with an impaired driver until it's too late. Some drunk drivers display obvious behaviors that indicate impairment such as weaving, stopping for no reason, speeding excessively and more. It is the mildly to moderately intoxicated drivers who may pose a larger danger. When a driver's behaviors on the road are exaggerated, you can avoid a vehicle, but when the signs are more subtle, you may not notice in time.

What happens when involved in a crash with a lower BAC driver

Many people don't realize that police can arrest an individual for DUI even if his or her BAC is less than .08. The totality of the situation creates probable cause for an arrest and results in a conviction for drunk driving. If you discover that the other driver had a BAC at all, you could make a case in civil court as well. Different people react differently to alcohol. Someone with a .08 BAC could be a safer driver than someone with a .04 BAC.

Other behaviors and circumstances require careful consideration when establishing negligence in an alcohol-related accident. The bottom line is that any measurable amount of alcohol in a person's system could help make your case when you pursue compensation for the injuries you suffered in a crash.

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Our legal team consists of attorney Wm. Dennis Brannon and his son C. Paul Brannon. We work together as a father and son team to provide our clients with exceptional service and solutions in motor vehicle accident claims and other personal injury matters.

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