A driver’s blood alcohol content level has a direct effect on his or her ability to operate a vehicle, and could lead to a DWI charge in Missouri.

Missouri laws warn motorists of the potential legal consequences that come with intoxicated driving. Drivers that have a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher are considered drunk, according to Missouri statutes, and may be charged with a DWI. As threatening as this sounds, many people are still unaware of what BAC levels are, how they are measured and how they can affect a person's ability to operate a vehicle.

Determining alcohol toxicity

Blood alcohol content levels show how much alcohol is in a person's body. The most common ways of measuring a BAC level is by taking a blood test or breath test. While blood tests directly measure the amount of alcohol that is present in a person's blood, breath tests determine this percentage indirectly through a breath sample. As the blood flows through the vessels surrounding the lungs, a percentage of the alcohol contained in the blood transfers into the lung's inhaled air supply. Once the driver exhales, this amount can be measured and converted into a BAC level, as reported by DrinkingAndDriving.org.

How BAC levels affect drivers

People have unique mental and physical characteristics, which enables them to process alcohol differently. However, there are commonalties in the way alcohol effects people and their ability to operate a vehicle, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. These include the following:

• BAC of 0.02 percent: Drivers begin to lose the ability to make accurate judgements as they become more relaxed. At this BAC level, motorists may experience declined visual function as well.

• BAC of 0.05 percent: Motorists often have impaired judgement and may have trouble steering. They are less likely to respond to certain driving hazards, such as pedestrians, bad weather conditions, objects in the road and other drivers' behavior.

• BAC of 0.08 percent: At this point, drivers may have trouble controlling the speed of their vehicle and often have perception problems. They may have difficulties concentrating and processing crucial information in their driving environment, such as traffic lights and turn signals.

• BAC of 0.15 percent: Drivers often show significant impairment when it comes to controlling their vehicle, processing information and focusing on driving. With this high amount of alcohol in their blood stream, some people may be prone to vomiting and could blackout while behind the wheel.

While some people may believe they are able to drive after having a few drinks, they may not be aware of the potential consequences of their actions.

Where to turn for legal help

If you have been charged with a DWI in Missouri, you may want to seek legal counsel from a defense attorney. You have rights and speaking with a lawyer may help to answer some of the questions you have regarding your case.

Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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