Multiple internal and external factors contribute to the level of intoxication experienced by individuals who drink alcohol. The same number of drinks consumed by two different California residents may not necessarily result in the same blood alcohol concentration. A person’s weight, level of hydration, body fat percentage and body chemistry determine how the body processes alcohol.

The timing or spacing of drinks matters as well. Drinking multiple drinks within one hour can cause intoxication. A woman who weighs roughly 120 pounds might end up with a BAC of .08 after downing two drinks in the space of an hour. A 180-pound man, however, might need to drink four drinks during the same period to reach a BAC of .08.

Variations among alcoholic drinks may cause people difficulty in estimating how much alcohol that they have consumed. Craft beers often have higher alcohol contents than regular beer.

A BAC of .08 represents the point when the law deems people too impaired to operate motor vehicles. Although people may experience impairment prior to reaching that level of blood alcohol, researchers have identified the .08 level as the point when the chance of traffic accidents rises dramatically.

Law enforcement takes driving under the influence very seriously. Because evidence of impairment is crucial to criminal prosecution, a person might ask an attorney about options for waging a DUI defense. The efforts of an attorney may reduce the severity of the consequences after a drunk driving arrest. An attorney might question the validity of field sobriety testing or point out that a person appeared impaired due to an unexpected reaction to medication.