Soaring High Blood-Alcohol Content Levels

The Guiness Book of World Records doesn’t list “highest blood-alcohol content” as an official category, probably to discourage people from trying to top extreme levels. Although alcoholics can survive higher blood-alcohol levels, the average person risks death above .40g/100ml—in other words, .4 percent of blood volume. A petite person could die from levels above .3 percent. Death is highly likely for anyone if the level goes above .5 percent. Here are some of the highest recorded:

1.6 percent
How many sheep can fit in a van? An intoxicated South African man managed to drive off with 15 sheep, five children and one woman squeezed into his Mercedes-Benz Vito van. When he was arrested near Queenstown, his blood-alcohol content was 1.6g/100ml. The legal limit in South Africa is .05 percent, making the man’s alcohol level 32 times the limit.’

1.48 percent
In 1995, a drunk and seriously injured driver was transported to a hospital after a car accident in Wroclaw, Poland. Hospital lab tests revealed the driver’s blood-alcohol level to be a staggering 1.48. Unable to believe the high level, the hospital repeated the lab work five times, with the same result each time. Amazingly, the driver didn’t die of acute alcohol poisoning. He did, however, die later of injuries sustained in the accident.

The legal blood-alcohol limit in Poland is .02. This means the man’s blood-alcohol content was over 70 times the legal limit for the country. How did he get that drunk? It wasn’t at a bar. Surprisingly, the last establishment the man had visited was his place of work, a chemical plant. A coworker revealed that the man had “beer bonged” pure grain alcohol that he’d stolen while at work.

1.33 percent
Men don’t have a corner on extreme alcohol consumption. In 1982, the emergency room at the UCLA Medical Center admitted a 24-year-old woman with a blood-alcohol content of 1.33g/ml. Believe it or not, doctors found her alert and well-oriented enough to tell them where she was. Since the legal limit in the U.S. is .08 percent, this means the young woman was nearly 17 times the limit.

1.23 percent
Another high-alcohol incident happened in Poland in March, 2009. A man was admitted to a hospital in Skierniewice after being hit by a car. His blood-alcohol level was 1.23. Not surprisingly, the man didn’t remember either the accident or where he was when he got so drunk.

1.024 percent
Still another Polish man survived extreme levels of intoxication. A homeless man was found sleeping partially naked in the biting cold of late January, 2011. He survived both the temperature of 10 degrees below zero Celsius and having a blood-alcohol content of 1.024 percent.

Surviving these high concentrations of alcohol, let alone remaining conscious long enough to ingest that quantity, is extremely rare. They are so rare that almost all other recorded incidents have been at levels below one percent.

Peter Wendt is a freelance article writer residing in the Austin TX area.  He is interested in researching about topics involving drunk driving.  He suggests finding more information about injuries at

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