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Blood alcohol concentration levels and their effects

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a listing of the effects of different blood alcohol concentration levels on driving skills. Based on information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the American Medical Association and other organizations focused on curbing drunk driving, the listing shows effects ranging from the level of .02 percent all the way to .15 percent. In Connecticut, as in all 50 states, the legal BAC limit for driving is .08 percent.

The CDC's listing shows that even the relatively low BAC of .02 percent, which is the equivalent of about two beers, involves some impairment in driving skills. There is some loss of judgment and a slight decline in visual tracking ability and in the ability to perform two tasks at once. At .05 percent, which involves drinking one more beer, drivers have reduced coordination, difficulty steering and a lowered response to emergency situations.

By the time a person's BAC reaches .08 percent, judgment and muscle coordination are both impaired. Drivers have trouble controlling speed, processing information and concentrating, and they experience short-term memory loss and impaired perception. As levels increase to .15 percent, people become highly impaired, with a loss of muscle control, slowed thinking and reaction times, slurred speech, loss of balance and possible vomiting. Drivers are less able to maintain lane position, brake appropriately, control their vehicle and pay attention.

Alcohol is a significant factor in motor vehicle accidents and is implicated in about a third of traffic deaths in the United States. A victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver has a right to financial compensation for medical bills and other needs. An attorney may be able to help strengthen the case for compensation by working to get evidence in support of the drunk driving charge.

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