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Penalties for driving over the legal limit

Driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above is illegal. However, if the presence of alcohol in your system adversely affects driving, you can still face arrest even if your BAC is lower than .08.

The penalties associated with a DWI are strict and can have long-term consequences. One of the issues that drivers face is how many drinks it takes to reach the illegal limit, as it can vary greatly due to multiple factors.

DWI penalties

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, DWI penalties include fines, loss of driving abilities and potential jail or prison time. The penalties are more severe for those with subsequent DWI convictions and for those with higher BAC levels. If the person convicted of the DWI was driving with a child in the vehicle, the individual faces even higher penalties as well as a child endangerment charge.

Factors that affect BAC

The problem with getting behind the wheel after drinking is that someone may have a BAC that is over the limit even if he or she did not drink that much. The University of Notre Dame Student Well-Being McDonald Center discusses the various factors that affect how quickly blood alcohol levels rise.

In general, males can drink more than females before reaching a BAC of .08. Having food in the stomach and drinking at a slower pace will cause BAC levels to rise more slowly. Factors that speed up intoxication include:

  • Stronger drinks
  • Anxious, depressive and angry moods
  • Dehydration
  • Over-the-counter, prescription and illicit drug use
  • Fatigue

One thing that does not affect BAC levels is alcohol tolerance. Although someone may be able to drink more before feeling the effects, this has no relation to how quickly BAC levels rise.


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