BAC Limits in The United States

The level of intoxication that someone feels is based on the blood alcohol content (BAC) within their body. Blood alcohol content doesn’t only affect your sobriety but also contributes to the potential legal consequences that you may face in regards to operating a vehicle under the influence.

To further elaborate, let’s look at a case where law enforcement in Oregon City, Oregon arrested a woman who had a BAC level that was almost seven times the legal limit.

The DUI Case of Meagan Harper

On December 27, 2007 in Oregon City, Oregon a woman by the name of Meagan Harper was arrested with a bail of $50,000 for alleged drunk driving. The high bail came after a Clackamas County prosecutor said Meagan Harper had a blood alcohol level of 0.55 percent — nearly seven times the legal limit — while she was behind the wheel.

A 0.55 percent blood alcohol level is so high that it’s considered lethal. An emergency room physician said it’s been more than five years since he treated anyone who had reached Harper’s degree of intoxication. Harper was found passed out in her car on the night that the 0.55 percent BAC was recorded.

The hospital which treated Miss Harper, this level of intoxication would require a 100-pound man or woman to consume roughly 10 drinks in an hour or a 200-pound man to drink about six drinks each hour for four hours.

According to public records, Harper was hit with five charges, including two counts of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, reckless endangerment of a person, criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license, according to the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office.

Under certain state DUI laws, such as those in Michigan, the extraordinary case of Miss Harper’s high BAC drunk driving incident would be classified as a “Super Drunk” offense. Generally speaking, these laws apply to incidents involving BAC levels of 0.17% or higher. This varies from state to state however the principle behind it is the same – to enforce stricter punishments against those who choose to operate a vehicle while excessively intoxicated and to act as a deterrent to others who may consider such a risk.

Generally speaking, these super drunk laws exist in states that already take drunk driving offenses very seriously. Of these, the strictest states include Arizona, Alaska, Michigan, West Virginia, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia. All of these states have harsher penalties for those with BAC levels significantly above the nationwide 0.08% level. In general, these states impose a second level of penalties for these offenses, usually with similar types of punishments, just considerably higher.