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Understanding how alcohol affects the body

Several agencies and organizations have made an effort to spread awareness about the effects that drinking alcohol has on the body. Wisconsin residents, however, may get a clearer picture of these effects from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and University of New Mexico, the CDC has determined the approximate number of drinks that a 160-pound male would have to drink within an hour to reach certain levels of blood alcohol concentration. The drink size is based on the U.S. standard of 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, such as a glass of wine or 12-oz. beer.

According to this, it takes about two drinks to reach a .02 percent BAC, and this causes relaxation, mood changes, some judgment loss and a slightly warm body. When driving, it reduces the ability to quickly track movement and to perform two tasks simultaneously. With two more drinks, an individual reaches a BAC of .08 percent, which causes poor muscle coordination and impaired judgment, memory, reasoning and self-control. At this level, drivers demonstrate poor concentration and speed control, short-term loss of memory, impaired perception and a diminished ability to process information.

After seven alcoholic drinks, the BAC of an individual reaches .15 percent. The effects of this include significant lack of balance and substantially diminished control of muscles. An individual who has not developed a tolerance for alcohol may also vomit. Drivers experience significantly impaired attention to driving, auditory and visual information processing and vehicle control.

A person who has been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver may want to have the assistance of an attorney in seeking compensation for medical expenses and other losses that have been sustained. The success of a personal injury lawsuit does not depend upon whether the impaired motorist was convicted of driving under the influence.

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