What does the blood alcohol level mean?

Alcohol does not cause the same blood alcohol level (BAC) in everyone. BAC is the number of grams of alcohol per liter of blood. There are all kinds of personal factors that influence this:

  • The alcohol is distributed over the total amount of body water. Someone who weighs a lot therefore notices less of the same number of glasses than someone who weighs little.
  • Whether you are a man or a woman also influences the blood alcohol level. A woman’s body contains less fluid per kilogram of weight than a man’s. That is why the alcohol is less diluted in women and women are on average more intoxicated than men.
  • Stomach filling may also play a role. The food in the stomach and the beginning of the intestines ensures that the alcohol is absorbed more evenly and more slowly into the blood. In short: with a full stomach you are less quickly to be under the influence of alcohol than if you drink on an empty stomach.
  • Your physical condition and whether you use medication or drugs also influence the blood alcohol level.
  • One standard glass of alcohol contains 10 grams of alcohol and leads on average to a blood alcohol level of 0.2 in men and 0.3 in women.
    Strong drinks are absorbed faster than low alcoholic drinks. Carbonated drinks and hot drinks are also absorbed faster.

So the blood alcohol level is an indication of how much you had to drink.