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Blood Alcohol Level (bal)

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Definition - What does Blood Alcohol Level (bal) mean?

Blood alcohol level or BAL refers to the ratio of alcohol to blood in a driver's bloodstream. Another common term for BAL is blood alcohol concentration or BAC. Alcohol may be absorbed into the bloodstream within minutes of consuming an alcoholic beverage. Although up to 90% of the alcohol will be digested and broken down in the liver, the remainder will be eliminated in the urine and the breath.

Drivers who are suspected of driving while intoxicated may be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests do not measure a person's BAL limit, only their reflexes and the ability to perform a series of tests. BAL can be tested through the driver's breath, blood, saliva or urine.

Although the breathalyzer is the most common method used by officers to test a driver's BAL, the most accurate is done by testing the driver's blood. Drivers who are stopped for driving under the influence may have the legal right to refuse to submit to testing their blood alcohol level, but there can be serious legal consequences.

Due to the increased risk of driving under the influence of alcohol, all states have changed their illegal BAL limit to 0.08%. Updating drunken driving laws by lowering the blood alcohol level limit for drivers was done to decrease the risk of death and injury from automobile accidents.

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