December 21, 1970

Blood Alcohol Levels and Intoxication

Author Affiliations

Injury Control Research Laboratory 235 Promenade St Providence, RI 02908

JAMA. 1970;214(12):2196. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180120068023

To the Editor.—  Lowenstein et al (213:1899, 1970) suggest that blood alcohol levels of 184 mg/100 ml "represent a moderately and mildly intoxicated level, respectively." Most investigators of alcohol and alcoholism would think that these levels represent, in the nonalcoholic, a state of advanced intoxication. In an excellent review of alcohol and the impaired driver,1 a series of studies are cited which illustrate that at blood alcohol levels of 150 mg/100 ml more than 50% of all persons are grossly intoxicated. Persons with a long history of alcohol use are less likely to shown signs of gross intoxication at lower levels since they have learned to control their behavior.Since functional impairment occurs at levels lower than those at which the diagnosis of intoxication would have been made by clinical criteria,1 (p25) intoxication should be defined as the level at which functional impairment occurs. Mild alcohol