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Virginia Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)



If you have read any websites or news articles about driving under the influence, you may have come across the acronym BAC.

What does BAC mean?


BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Blood alcohol content is the percentage of alcohol that is present in blood. It is usually measured as mass per volume.  For example, a BAC of .04 percent is 0.04 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of a person’s blood

Determining a driver’s BAC is important because each state has laws that govern how much alcohol may be in the blood before it becomes illegal to operate a motorized vehicle. In Virginia, as in most states, the maximum BAC level is .08 percent.

There are two ways to determine a driver’s BAC: breath and blood. The police officer can choose which of the tests to administer to the driver.

The most common test is the breath test because it is inexpensive and fairly simple to administer. You may have heard this referred to as a Breathalyzer test, named after a brand that was commonly used. However, it is more likely that the test will be administered on an Intox ECIR II.

Blood testing is another method used to determine a driver’s BAC. This test is not as practical, as the blood draw typically requires a nurse and special precautions must be taken to ensure the accuracy of the test and the chain of evidence.

Did you know that you can be convicted of drunk-driving even if your BAC is less than .08 percent? If the officer can prove that your actions indicated that you were impaired, that then becomes probable cause for arrest and may lead to a conviction.

Refusing to take any tests to determine your BAC will lead to a license suspension for one year. This is because of Virginia's implied consent law.


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