Responsible Driving: What is “Legally Drunk” In Virginia?

Learn what it means to be legally drunk in Virginia and how to avoid drunk driving. For a quick FR-44 filing, call us today!

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A BAC of 0.08% indicates being legally drunk in Virginia. However, because of many variables, there is no clear way to know how many drinks it takes to reach a BAC of 0.08% for every person. An officer can charge someone with a DUI if their driving ability is visibly impaired – even if their BAC is lower than 0.08%.

What does it mean to be legally drunk in Virginia? A basic definition of drunk driving is when a driver illegally operates a vehicle when their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher.

If an officer pulls you over with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, they will charge you with driving under the influence (DUI). You can also get a DUI charge if your BAC is below 0.08% if an officer determines you cannot drive safely due to the effects of alcohol or drugs. So, as a rule, you should always ensure you don’t plan on driving when you drink.

Zero Tolerance for Under 21 & Teen Drivers

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase or consume alcohol in Virginia. If you’re under 21 and caught with alcohol in your vehicle or a BAC of 0.02% or higher, the state can charge you with “driving under the influence-minor.” This lower BAC threshold for teen drivers is called the Zero Tolerance law. Violating this law results in penalties such as a fine and driver’s license suspension.

Common Questions About Drunk Driving

What exactly is BAC? What does having a BAC of 0.08% mean? How many drinks does it take to be legally drunk in Virginia? Can you prevent yourself from driving while intoxicated? If any of these questions are on your mind, this blog post can help you drive responsibly. Let’s start with understanding what BAC means.

A man having a glass of wine at a bar who does not plan to drive legally drunk in Virginia.

What Does BAC Mean?

BAC is the acronym for blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration. It measures the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream, expressed as a percentage of the total blood volume. For example, a BAC of 0.10% is a ratio of 1:1,000 – one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood volume. Therefore, a BAC of 0.08% means that there are 0.08 grams of alcohol present in every 100 milliliters of blood in your body. The 0.08% threshold is the limit for legally operating a motor vehicle in most countries, including the United States.

It’s important to remember that driving is never safe if you’ve been drinking alcohol. Even a BAC below the legal limit can impair your ability to drive safely. Based on observation and sobriety testing, if an officer believes you’re impaired, even with a lower BAC than 0.08%, they can charge you with a DUI.

An alcoholic drink being poured with a concern for driving legally drunk in Virginia.

How Many Drinks Does It Take To Be Legally Drunk In Virginia?

If you Google this question, you’ll get results stating that it takes 4 to 5 drinks to be legally drunk in Virginia. But this answer is highly misleading.

According to Lifeloc Technologies, blood alcohol concentration depends on several factors besides the number of drinks you’ve had. Some of these factors include the following:

  • How slowly or quickly you consume alcohol
  • The type and amount of alcohol consumed
  • Your gender
  • Your height and weight
  • The amount of food in your stomach
  • Medications you take

So, it’s nearly impossible to figure out your BAC based only on the number of drinks you’ve had. Some medications can make you feel more impaired and lower your driving ability, even if they don’t affect your BAC. So you can’t depend on an accurate answer to the question, “How many drinks does it take to get legally drunk in Virginia?” No matter your BAC, if you’re alcohol or drug-impaired, you risk having an accident and getting a DUI charge.

How to Avoid Driving Legally Drunk in Virginia

If you plan on drinking, ensure you won’t have to drive afterward. These tips can help you stay safe when you plan on drinking:

  1. Plan and arrange a mode of transportation, such as an Uber, or designate a sober person to drive you before you start drinking.
  2. You can lessen the effects of alcohol by drinking slowly and switching between non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic drinks.
  3. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eat food before and while drinking to help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream.
  4. Know your limits and don’t exceed them. If you’re feeling intoxicated or unsafe, stop drinking and find a safe way to get home.
  5. Pay attention to your surroundings and the people you’re with. Don’t leave your drink unattended or take a drink offered by someone you don’t know or trust.
  6. If you’re at a party, make sure there’s a way to call for help quickly if needed.
  7. Pay attention to your surroundings if you’re at a bar or nightclub. Stick with a group of people and stay in lighted areas.
  8. Don’t mix different types of alcohol, as you may lose track of how much alcohol you’ve had.
  9. If you feel unwell or have had too much to drink, seek medical attention immediately.
  10. Finally, remember that it’s never okay to drink and drive. It’s not only dangerous, it’s also illegal.

Happy people drinking alcoholic beverages, unconcerned about driving legally drunk in Virginia.

Install an Ignition Interlock Device to Drive Responsibly

Alcohol can also impair your ability to assess your impairment. You may feel you’re okay to drive when you’re too impaired to tell you’re legally drunk in Virginia. If you think you’re often at risk of driving drunk, consider installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle.

An IID is a small device that can estimate your level of impairment by measuring your breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). You install this device in your vehicle to control the ignition. You must blow into the device to start your car and pass the BrAC requirement. If the result is too high, your vehicle won’t start. (See also: Do I need an ignition interlock device if I don’t own a car?)

UltraCar Insurance partners with Intoxalock®, a state-authorized manufacturer of ignition interlock products. Intoxalock has more 5-star ratings on Trustpilot than any other company. Our relationship with Intoxalock makes you eligible for a free IID installation of their affordable, easy-to-use devices.

Trust UltraCar Insurance to Help Reinstate Your Virginia License

UltraCar Insurance has been a reputable provider of high-risk SR-22 and FR-44 insurance in Virginia for over ten years. To reinstate your license when you don’t own a vehicle, we also offer non-owner SR-22 and non-owner FR-44 insurance in Virginia.

Do you have a conviction for driving legally drunk in Virginia? Call UltraCar Insurance today to get low SR-22 & FR-44 insurance rates in Virginia with no filing fees, or start an online quote now!

Disclaimer:  This blog post is published for informational purposes and is not a substitution for legal advice. Please do not consider any part of this blog post as an encouragement to drink alcohol when driving a motor vehicle.