Each year hundreds of thousands of people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Be aware of how much is too much according to the law and what kinds of penalties you face if you are caught drinking while driving.
How much can I drink?
If a man weighs 180 lbs., his BAC will typically be over .08% after four drinks over the course of an hour.
Having three drinks in an hour will put a woman weighing 140 lbs. over the legal limit.
These are not concrete guidelines. Your BAC level is determined by a variety of things. Your weight, body fat, type of drink, consumption rate and when/what you last ate (among others) are all factors that affect your BAC. Check out a blood alcohol calculator that can give you an idea of what your concentration might be after a period of time or take a look at the tables below provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
About ⅓ of all deaths in traffic accidents are caused by drunk drivers. The current legal threshold for a driver’s BAC is currently .08%, but that could soon change. The National Transportation Safety Board is proposing that the legal limit be .05% in all 50 states.
Consequences in Missouri
DUI: Driving Under the Influence
In Missouri, you will be charged with a misdemeanor for your first offense. This could land you in jail and will result in fines up to $500 as well as license suspension. A second offense, also a misdemeanor, will leave you with tougher penalties including a suspended license for a year, mandatory jail time and an ignition interlock. Your third offense will be considered a felony that could put you in jail for up to 5 years with thousands of dollars in fines and a 10-year license revocation.
DWI: Driving While Intoxicated
A DWI is a higher charge than a DUI in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two. Depending on your state and jurisdiction, a DWI can result in jail time, fines, license revocation, mandatory alcohol and drug education and ignition interlocks. Check out this interactive map regarding DUI/DWI laws and penalties by state.
If someone is killed due to a driver’s impairment, he or she could be charged with a vehicular manslaughter. In Missouri, this felony could put you in jail for up to 15 years. A vehicular manslaughter conviction in Illinois will result in jail time from 1-28 years. Remember that other charges associated with the crime can add to the penalties.
Your best protection against the law and hurting yourself or others is to not drink before getting behind the wheel. You do not have to be over the legal limit to get in legal trouble.