Environmental and Bodily Factors that Affect BAC

January 22, 2020
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

One factor that is considered to determine whether a person is legally intoxicated is their blood alcohol content or BAC. This is the amount of alcohol that is found in their blood as a result of their consumption over a specific amount of time. However, there are a few factors that can directly impact a person’s BAC. As a result, the BAC may not be truly accurate in terms of the amount of alcohol the person has consumed.

Your Age

Your age can have a direct relationship with your BAC level. As you get older, the effects of alcohol can become even more of an impact on your ability to become intoxicated.

Your Gender

Your gender can also play a key part in your BAC level. Women have higher water content in their bodies and alcohol is very water-soluble. As a result, when a woman consumes the same amount of alcohol as a man, her BAC will become higher even if they are the same weight and age. Women also tend to have lower amounts of a specific enzyme in their stomach that doesn’t break down alcohol as quickly as it does in a man’s body.

Rate of Consumption

If you drink an alcoholic beverage quickly, your BAC will also be higher faster.

Drink Strength

The strength of the alcoholic drink also has an impact on your BAC. If a drink contains more alcohol and is not watered down, the more alcohol ends up in your bloodstream and the higher your BAC.

couple of alcoholic drinks on the table

Body Type

Your body type also determines what your BAC level ends up being. If you are a larger person who carries more weight, it might take several drinks before the alcohol has an effect. A person who is smaller and weighs less, on the other hand, can get drunk faster.

Fat and Muscle Content

Fat and muscle also play a part in BAC. A person with more body fat typically has a higher BAC while someone with more muscle will have a lower amount since muscle has higher water content. Fat is lower in water by contrast.


Your metabolism determines how quickly your body absorbs alcohol.

Emotional State

If you’re dressed out, your body is better able to absorb alcohol. However, being calm can result in a higher BAC.


Drinking alcohol can work against certain medications and even heighten the effects of alcohol. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist whether it’s safe to consume alcohol while taking certain drugs.


Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can quickly raise your BAC. When there’s food in your system, it can absorb the alcohol better.


Carbonated beverages can cause alcohol to get into your bloodstream faster and result in a higher BAC.

Final Thoughts

These are all the factors that can lead to a higher BAC. It’s important to keep these things in mind the next time you drive somewhere and later choose to consume an alcoholic beverage.

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