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When it comes to alcohol consumption, everyone is different

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2019 | BAC, Drunk Driving

Autumn offers many opportunities for enjoying alcohol with friends and family members. Perhaps you love getting together with the boys to tailgate before a college football game. Or, maybe you host an annual harvest festival, complete with delicious spiked cider. Either way, you should know how your body handles alcohol. 

If you drink this fall, you must take steps to keep yourself both safe and out of legal trouble. If you drive with a blood alcohol concentration of above 0.08%, you may face stiff DWI penalties. Yet, you may also wonder how long you must wait to drive after consuming beer, liquor, wine, cider or seltzer. 

Alcohol consumption 

The human body usually metabolizes one unit of alcohol per hour. Typically, a unit is 10ml of alcohol. What constitutes a single unit, though, varies from beverage to beverage. For example, a glass of wine may have as many as three units of alcohol. Meanwhile, a pint of 3.6% lager may have two units. As such, your body may need two hours to break down a single pint of light beer. 

Understanding how alcohol metabolizes 

While using the one hour per unit rule is an effective way to gauge how your body processes alcohol, you must realize that every person’s body breaks down alcohol a bit differently. The following seven factors may affect how long alcohol remains in your system: 

  •         Age
  •         Sex
  •         Weight
  •         Type of alcohol
  •         Medication
  •         Overall health
  •         Metabolism 

Because you and your friends have different characteristics, your blood alcohol concentration may climb faster or slower than others in your group. Alcohol may also either stay in your system longer or move through more quickly.   

The dangers of binge drinking 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions against binge drinking. For binge drinking to occur, men must consume at least five drinks and women must consume four in a single setting. If you regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol, your body may metabolize booze differently. You may also not realize how much you have had to drink. 

When weighing potential DWI charges, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you think you are too drunk to drive, you should always call a rideshare or ask a friend to take you home. Still, because everyone processes alcohol differently, you must recognize that your BAC may be above the legal limit, even if you feel fine.


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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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