Blood Alcohol Content

When you drink alcohol your body does not digest alcohol as you do food. Alcohol is processed by your liver and kidneys, and the process takes time. There is no quick way to sober up or to get the alcohol out of your body. Drinking black coffee, taking a cold shower, exercising, or eating might make you feel more alert after drinking alcohol, but none of these actions has any effect on how quickly alcohol leaves your body.

Determining exactly what is "too much" alcohol can be difficult. The amount of unprocessed alcohol in your body is measured as blood alcohol content (BAC), which is usually determined by a blood or a breath test. Your blood alcohol content depends on several factors:

Your body weight
How much alcohol you have had to drink
The amount of food you ate before drinking
The length of time during which you have been drinking alcohol
The speed at which your body processes alcohol (everyone processes alcohol differently)

Regardless of the kind of beverage you drink, the key is the amount of alcohol you have consumed over a period of time. Each of the following drinks contain about the same amount of alcohol (about 1/2 ounce):

12-ounce beer
4-ounce glass of wine
1-ounce serving of 80- proof liquor (even if mixed with a soft drink)

Any one of these drinks can increase the average person's BAC by 0.02. If you have more than one drink in an hour, your BAC starts to rise, and only time will rid you of the effects of alcohol.

Alcohol Tests

According to the Massachusetts Implied Consent Law, every licensed driver in this state agrees to consent to an alcohol test under certain circumstances.

If you are stopped by a police officer who believes you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask you to:

Perform a field sobriety test and submit to a breath or blood test to calculate your blood alcohol content, if you have been arrested. You have the right to refuse these tests.

If you take a breath test and you register a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, you are operating above the legal limit. For drivers under 21, Massachusetts has a "zero-tolerance" law. This means a blood alcohol content of 0.02 is above the legal limit if you are under 21.

Police officers are required to take away your license on the spot if you register an illegal blood alcohol content or if you refuse a breath test.

An officer will take away your license immediately, give you a notice of suspension, and issue you a temporary license, which will become effective after 12 hours. This temporary license is valid for 15 days and gives you an opportunity to exercise your right to a license suspension hearing.


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