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Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): What's the Big Deal?

What exactly is blood alcohol content (BAC) and what does it have to do with me?  BAC is the concentration of alcohol in the blood.  A breathalyzer device measures the content of alcohol in the blood with a number system (a 0.000 reading indicates there is no alcohol present; any number beyond that identifies the presence of alcohol).

Any amount of alcohol in the blood can lead to poor judgment and slowed reflexes.  People who drink similar amounts of alcohol may experience different effects and BAC levels.  These effects and BAC levels are influenced by factors like body weight, the amount of food eaten while drinking, and alcohol tolerance.

So here’s the big deal:

BAC   Observable Effects


Relaxation, slight body warmth


Sedation, slowed reaction time


Slurred speech, poor coordination, slowed thinking


Trouble walking, double vision, nausea, vomiting


May pass out, tremors, memory loss, cool body temperature


Trouble breathing, coma, possible death
0.50 and greater



*BAC information retrieved 21 Mar 2017 from

Visit your installation Substance Abuse Counseling Center for more information, education, services, or assistance with alcohol, alcohol misuse, and addiction.

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