Despite the consistent scale used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level, the relation between BAC percentage and how “drunk” a person feels actually lacks a strong connection.
Instead, many different factors like a person’s age, gender and weight can impact how a different BAC level may feel to him or her.
BAC percentage and intoxication
The University of Notre Dame discusses what different BAC levels may feel like to different people. Generally speaking, most metrics will use a rough guide that determines at what percentage people begin to feel certain effects.
For example, at 0.020 to 0.039 percent, most people feel relaxed, a loss of shyness and mild euphoria. No loss of coordination exists at this stage.
From 0.040 to 0.059 percent, people typically experience a lowering of caution, minor impairment of judgment and memory, lower inhibitions, warmth, euphoria and a feeling of relaxation and general well-being.
Percentages range all the way up to .399 percent, which can cause blackouts and alcohol poisoning. At .40 percent and higher, victims will often fall comatose and may die due to respiratory arrest.
Factors that determine “drunkenness”
However, many factors determine how a person reacts to alcohol. For example, some people may have a higher susceptibility to wine compared to beer, and they may feel drunk faster when imbibing it.
People can also feel more or less drunk than their BAC might reflect. Some think they feel fine when their BAC actually passed the legal limit already, while others may remain below the legal limit but actually lack the coordination and skill needed to drive.
Thus, it is best to err on the side of caution and not get behind the wheel no matter how much or little drink a person has.