Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) tests: Understanding the rules of the road.

If you are suspected of driving while intoxicated, you will likely be asked to take a BAC test to measure your blood alcohol content. These screenings typically come in the form of breath and blood tests (e.g., breathalyzer, alco-sensor, etc.). BAC tests in New York can be conducted roadside or at the police station. In some cases, the police can even request a warrant to take blood from drivers who are facing criminal charges.

Alcohol’s Effect on Driving

Blood Alcohol
Concentration (BAC)
Typical EffectsPredictable Effects
on Driving
  • Some loss of judgment
  • Relaxation
  • Slight body warmth
  • Altered mood
  • Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target)
  • Decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)
  • Exaggerated behavior
  • May have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes)
  • Impaired judgment
  • Usually good feeling
  • Lowered alertness
  • Release of inhibition
  • Reduced coordination
  • Reduced ability to track moving objects
  • Difficulty steering
  • Reduced response to emergency driving situations
  • Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing)
  • Harder to detect danger
  • Judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Speed control impairment
  • Reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search)
  • Impaired perception
  • Clear deterioration of reaction time and control
  • Slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking
  • Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
  • Far less muscle control than normal
  • Vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or the drinker has developed a tolerance for alcohol)
  • Major loss of balance
  • Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing

Information in this table shows the BAC level at which an effect is usually first observed. This table was prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its data comes from a variety of sources, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the American Medical Association, the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, and

Should you refuse a BAC test? Know your options.

If you’re facing the threat of a DWI, it’s not uncommon to wonder whether or not you should submit to chemical testing. It is important to know that if you refuse blood alcohol content tests in a suspected DWI, you will face immediate consequences including:

  • A one-year suspension of your driving privileges
  • A civil penalty of $500

These penalties and fines will be added to any others that are assessed in a criminal court conviction. Be aware that the refusal to take a BAC test in New York can be used against you as evidence that you were intoxicated.

It is your legal right to contact a lawyer before you consent to chemical tests. Call the Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria DWI team at 716 849 1333 to receive information and guidance from our DWI attorneys. The firm will help you understand the breath and blood tests you are facing and how the results can impact your case. For more information on this topic, visit our DWI penalties page.

Put the experience of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria to the test.

A BAC test is not infallible. It can be improperly administered or equipment can malfunction. The team at Lipsitz Green understands the strict protocols that law enforcement officials must follow before a BAC test in New York. And the firm knows that testing devices must be properly maintained and calibrated in order to be reliable.

If your arrest was made on the basis of illegal or faulty tests, Lipsitz Green’s attorneys will challenge the results and fight aggressively to get charges dismissed. Lipsitz Green has defended cases at the highest levels of state and federal court, including the United States Supreme Court, so you can feel confident turning to Lipsitz Green for your DWI case. Visit our DWI defense page to learn more about Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s experience and knowledge in New York DWI defense.