What is a High BAC for a DUI Case?

What is a High BAC for a DUI Case?

In every state in the United States, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent (except for CDL drivers who drive vehicles during detention and underage drivers). 

If your BAC is 0.08 percent or more, you are about to be arrested for DUI. As you drink, your BAC increases; hence, BAC and impairment are correlated. DUI Driving Laws provides a chart that shows how BAC corresponds to the subject’s weight and several drinks.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels

The concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood at a given moment depends on several variables. The primary indicator is the amount of alcohol consumed by the person and for what period. In general, the body can metabolize the alcohol in one standard drink in about an hour.
Drinking more alcohol in a shorter time causes an increase in blood concentration.

There are recognizable signs associated with increasing blood alcohol concentration:

  • BAC 0.02%: At this concentration, the mood is affected and judgment to a lesser extent.
  • BAC 0.05%: More filters are leaving; behavior can be exaggerated and more perceptible. Muscle control and coordination may get affected.
  • BAC 0.08%: Processing speed has slowed enough to impair perception and coordination, so reaction times are also slower.

Some differences between people and circumstances surrounding the consumption of alcohol affect blood alcohol levels so that two people who drink the same amount of alcohol may not have the same BAC numbers.

What is Considered a high BAC Level?

Each state has adopted its laws and requirements regarding penalties for drunk driving violations and which set state standards for BAC levels in DUI cases.

So whether a BAC level is considered high or not will depend on the laws and specific state.

Generally, the range of a high BAC usually falls between 0.15% and 0.20%.

Again, a person charged with driving while intoxicated with a high BAC may be subject to additional or increased penalties if convicted of these charges. In other words, the higher a person’s BAC level, the more chances to receive a severe punishment.

The reason that a driver will receive a more severe penalty for a high BAC level than a driver found to have a lower BAC level than that number offers evidence that the person is likely to have committed the crime of driving under the influence or driving when drunk. However, it is crucial to note that other case factors (like body weight, age, damage to other persons or property, etc.) may affect the basic assumption.

Factors affecting BAC

The rate at which alcohol metabolizes depends on the condition of the body and its consumption, including:

Body size and composition  

Water dilutes the alcohol concentration. So the more water in the body, the more diluted the concentration of alcohol. Muscle tissue contains more water; large bodies probably hold more water and have more blood alcohol than smaller people.

Consumption of food 

When food is in the stomach, alcohol enters the bloodstream more slowly because digestion delays the entry of alcohol into the small intestine, where most of it is absorbed. Since fatty foods take the longest to digest, they are the most effective at delaying digestion get alcohol into the blood.

Intake of more alcohol in less time

Anyone who drinks more than one standard drink an hour should expect their BAC to rise because the alcohol comes in faster than the body can metabolize.

Other factors include hormone levels, medications, mood or fatigue, and the type of drink or mixer. 

What kind of increased penalties are charged under high BAC laws?

Similar to the criteria set by states for baseline BAC levels, the types of penalties that the amount an accused can receive for high BAC DUI charges will vary widely from state to state.

Below is a list of the various penalties issued and imposed by certain states when a person is found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol with a high BAC level.

  • In California, a BAC level of 0.15% in California r higher is sufficiently excessive to warrant increased penalties. Some examples of Penalties that California state court in such cases can impose compulsory attendance include taking away his driver’s license for alcohol and drug-related selling or treatment, fines, and possibly imprisonment. 

The court will also use the high BAC level to determine if a person should be granted probation or not. In addition, the court will also consider this factor when deciding on arson blocking must also be ordered. 

An ignition interlock device is a device that attaches to an individual’s vehicle and requires them to pass a test.

  • In Florida, those convicted of driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.15% or higher will face higher fines and longer prison terms. 

For a first high BAC, misdemeanor fines can be up to $2,000 and up to nine months in jail. A driver’s license might be revoked for up to one year if there was no injury. Reinstatement of driving privileges requires fulfillment of a DUI education and installation of an interlock ignition device.

  • Like Florida and California, Texas has also raised the penalties for BAC levels to 0.15% and higher. 

Drunk drivers convicted of DUI or DWI who meet this standard can face imprisonment for one year or more and various fines. 

  • As with other states, the more times a driver gets convicted of drunk driving, the more severe the penalties they get.

Can I refuse a breath test?

When you get your driver’s license, they have presumed consent laws that you have agreed to a BAC test to drive legally. Although laws vary from state to state, refusal of Breath tests can result in the immediate withdrawal of a driver’s license for up to 12 months and possibly prison.

In some states, judges can issue warrants that even order drivers to take them to breathe tests. Breath test refusal usually has worse consequences before taking it.


Driving under the influence (DUI) offense is usually determined by the level of alcohol that is present in your bloodstream, known as your blood alcohol content (BAC).

Your BAC levels will determine whether you could be charged with DUI or not at the time of the arrest. An Amount of 0.08 or higher is sufficient to establish a DUI charge.

A DUI can result in different penalties, including jail or prison. With a huge BAC DUI, those liabilities will enhance. 

In addition, you may face the loss of your freedom, suspension, or revocation of your driving license for years. Since a DUI charge carries grave penalties, and even more so if you have a huge BAC, you must hire an attorney to handle your case. So, one should avoid driving while intoxicated.


How is blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measured?

BAC is measured with a breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test. Breath tests are often used, but blood tests are considered more accurate.

What are the consequences of a high BAC DUI conviction?

High BAC DUI convictions often mean higher fines, longer jail times, and increased license suspension. Participation in driver training, alcohol treatment, or installing an ignition interlock device is necessary before driving privilege restores.

What should I do if I get arrested for DUI/DWI?

If you are facing a DUI or DWI charge, then it is recommended that you should consult with a local DUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney who can handle cases of DUI or DWI charges can help you defend your interests and present your case to the judge.

Can I question the Bac test results?

There are several ways to question the results of a BAC test. One of the most common ways of fighting a high BAC DUI is with a “blood alcohol rising defense.”