Drinking alcohol excessively can greatly impair your judgment. For example, you may choose to drive while intoxicated, which is both highly illegal and dangerous. Drunk driving could result in jail time, having your driver's license taken away for a year (or having the test postponed for a year if you don't have your license yet), or causing injury or death to yourself or others.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and Blood Alcohol Level (BAL)
BAC and BAL are measurements of the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. A BAC of 0.1 means that 1/1000 of the fluid in the blood is alcohol. That may seem small, but it doesn't take much for you to achieve this level. Legal intoxication is defined as a BAC of 0.08 percent.
- In all states, it's illegal to drive your car when your BAC is 0.08 or higher. Some states are considering lowering the BAC legal limit to 0.05.
- A 150 pound male who has five drinks over the course of two hours will have a BAC over 0.1.
- A 115 pound female who has four drinks over the course of two hours will have a BAC near 0.15.
- Most states have zero-tolerance laws that make it illegal for anyone under age 21 to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any amount of alcohol.
At a BAC of 0.08, your thinking will be slowed and your vision, hearing, reaction time, movement and judgment of speed and distance will be seriously impaired.
Facts for Teen Drivers
Any teen who drives should be aware that:
- Alcohol-related traffic collisions cause more deaths of people ages 16 to 24 than any other single cause.
- It is a crime for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.
- Anyone under 21 found driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.01 percent or higher will automatically lose their driving privilege for one year.
- Minors found driving with alcohol in their systems who don't yet have a driver's license, or who aren't eligible for a license at the time of the violation, will be disqualified from applying for a license for one year.
- A driver under 21 with a blood alcohol level at or above 0.08 percent can be arrested and prosecuted for driving under the influence.
- Teens under 21 who are arrested for any alcohol or drug offense will have their licenses suspended for at least one year. If they don't have a license, they must wait an additional year before one will be issued.
- A person under 21 who's convicted of drunk driving will be sentenced and fined as an adult but will spend their sentence in a juvenile correctional facility or California Youth Authority Detention Center. There will also be mandatory enrollment in an alcohol-education program or community service.
- The court may order that all fines and fees be paid by the parent(s) of the minor.
Last Reviewed: July 2019