If you listen to the news or read a newspaper, all too often you’ll notice a report on a driver who’s been caught – or worse, killed – with a high blood alcohol level. The limit in most states and territories is 0.05% blood alcohol level or BAC, so what are the effects of alcohol when this level is reached? What happens if you continue to drink and reach levels of 0.1 or more?
Firstly, it’s important to note that the effects of alcohol, like other drugs, is highly individual. But as a guide:
- At around 0.02 to 0.03 BAC, most people will have no loss of coordination. They might feel a little more relaxed and less shy.
- Between 0.04 and 0.06 BAC, relaxation and lower inhibitions are intensified. You may also experience some impairment of reasoning, behaviour and emotions.
- When 0.07 to 0.09 BAC is reached, your reaction time, speech and balance are likely to be impaired. Impairment of reasoning, behaviour and emotions will increase. However, you may not notice these impairments and you may in fact think you’re in total control.
- With BAC going over 0.1, your motor coordination will be significantly impaired. You may feel good but those around you will know you’re getting drunk, as your speech, balance, hearing and reaction time will all be affected.
- Approaching 0.15 BAC, most people will exhibit a lack of physical control. Emotions can also change from euphoria to possibly anxiety and restlessness.
- Between 0.16 and 0.19 BAC, some people will feel nauseous and may be approaching the stage where they feel dazed, confused, disorientated and unbalanced.
- Keep drinking and at 0.25 BAC there is an increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit and serious chance of injury from falls or other accidents.
- At 0.30 BAC, many people will pass out and those who don’t will have little idea of where or who they are.
- Between 0.35 and 0.4 BAC, most people will be in a coma and will be at risk of death due to respiratory arrest.