Many drivers know that .08 is the legal limit of intoxication. Therefore, it’s illegal to drive at this point and doing so may land you a DUI. However, many drivers don’t realize that impairment begins long before you reach a BAC of .08. In fact, your driving skills can become impaired at just .02. Therefore, it’s important to understand your impairment level at each stage in order to avoid getting behind the wheel when it’s not safe.
Impairment & BAC: Understanding your Limits
At a BAC of .02, you barely have any alcohol in your system. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already began effecting your impairment level. Around this point, most people begin to loosen up and relax. With this relaxation, many people lose some of their sound judgment. In addition, a BAC of .02 also already takes a minor physical effect on the impairment level. Some people experience reduced visual abilities, meaning they may have trouble tracking a moving object or focuses on two things at once.
As your BAC rises, your impairment level does as well. That means symptoms of the above impairment level become more pronounced, while new symptoms begin. For example, visual abilities and judgment only get worse at the .05 impairment level. In addition, new problems come about such as lowered alertness, reduced coordination, and the loss of small- muscle control. At this point, many skills you use to operate and drive a vehicle have become impaired.
Once you reach the legal intoxication level of .08, many of those skills you use to function become dull. For example, you may have trouble with balance, speech, vision, and reaction time. In addition to that loss of muscle coordination, your judgement and reasoning also gets worse at this impairment level. People typically have a harder time detecting danger, lose self-control, and suffer from mild memory loss.
Slower Reaction Time
One of the most dangerous aspects that compounds through each level of impairment is reaction time. When operating a vehicle, it’s crucial to be able to react quickly. You may need to hit the brakes, swerve around an object, and change directions within a moment’s notice. However, beginning at the earlier impairment level of .02, drivers begin losing their reaction time. Once you reach the point of legal intoxication, your reaction time will become drastically delayed.