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Ask the DUI Expert: What's the Highest BAC You've Ever Encountered?

This week, we ask Officer William Pelarenos: What is the highest BAC you've ever encountered on the job?

Officer Pelarenos: The highest BAC level that I ever encountered on a DUI arrest was 0.378%. This was on 'Black Wednesday', which the night before Thanksgiving. It is a bigger drinking night than New Year’s Eve.

I stopped a vehicle for speeding. The driver pulled into a parking lot, and as he exited his vehicle, immediately lit a cigarette. He then leaned up against his car. He was obviously intoxicated but he was not falling down drunk. Here is a man who drinks alcohol everyday.

When I administered the evidentiary breathalyzer exam, he registered a BAC 0.378%, so I had to call the paramedics. Once somebody has a BAC level of 0.300% or above, it was our policy to get them medical attention because of the possibility of blood alcohol poisoning, which is fatal. Alcohol poisoning occurs when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that the areas of the brain that control basic life support begin to shut down. Binge drinking has led to alcohol poisoning resulting in many deaths.

It’s been 14 years since I arrested this man and I remember it vividly. He told me that he drinks because his wife was suffering from MS (Multiple Sclerosis), I told him that the cure to MS cannot be found at the bottom of a liquor bottle.

Did he listen to me? No.

Between the day of my arresting him and the first court date, he was arrested two more times for DUI. (In Illinois, a drivers license suspension does not take effect until 46 days after the DUI arrest. So in a month, he racked up 3 DUI arrests.)

Got a DUI question for Officer Pelarenos? Ask him at, or find him on Twitter, @policeproject1.