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The Legal Alcohol Limit in The USA

Editor Dan Schimmel, LCSW, CAP
Created On
Updated On

stop-drinking-alcoholThroughout the United States there are laws in place to protect its citizens of the negative effects of alcohol. Each state has its own legal limit for alcohol use. This limit is used to protect motorists from those driving under the influence or while intoxicated from alcohol. Those who ignore these laws and drive under the influence of alcohol or while intoxicated and are found guilty by a court of law face legal repercussions for their actions.


How is the Legal Limit of Alcohol Measured?

The legal limit of alcohol varies state to state. To determine if an individual is at the legal limit of alcohol is done by measuring the individuals BAC Blood alcohol content, also called blood alcohol concentration, blood ethanol concentration, or blood alcohol level.

The BAC, blood alcohol content, is expressed by the percentage of alcohol in the individuals blood. For example an individual with a BAC of 0.10 means the0.10% of the person’s blood is alcohol by volume.

State Alcohol Limit

All 50 states have a set .08% BAC as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence as residential drivers and a BAC of .04% for commercial drivers as of 2011. The BAC is measured by a breath device, urinalysis or blood test.Those found guilty of driving with a BAC of these amounts or over can result in a DUI conviction. Throughout the Nation there is a zero tolerance limit for those under 21. Any individual under the age of alcohol with any amount of alcohol in their blood system are grounds for a DUI arrest.

The purpose of the legal alcohol limit and BAC is so law enforcement is able to define intoxication through a rough measure of impairment. While not everyone is affected and impaired by alcohol at the same degree the law stands firm at a legal limit of 0.08% BAC for residential drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers.

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