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How long does it take to reach a .08% blood alcohol content?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2019 | BAC

Drinking is often a way people use to socialize – and you yourself may enjoy it. You don’t have any problem with it, and you feel like you know how many drinks you can have before it wouldn’t be safe to drive.

Thinking you know and knowing are two different things, though. It only takes a blood alcohol content of .08% to be arrested for a DWI on the spot, so it’s important that you don’t drive when you’ve been drinking.

Just how much alcohol does it take to reach .08%?

Interestingly, you can’t find an answer to this question because it varies from person to person. There are many factors that play a role in intoxication such as:

  • Fat
  • Metabolism
  • Body type
  • The rate of consumption
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Hydration
  • Muscle content
  • Your emotional state
  • Alcohol tolerance
  • The alcohol content in a drink
  • Your overall health
  • Medications
  • Whether you’ve eaten food
  • The presence of carbonation in the alcoholic beverage

With so many factors that can play a role in intoxication, it’s clear why there’s no easy way to tell you how much alcohol will lead to a BAC above .08%.

If you consume one drink an hour, will you be safe to drive?

This idea is a common misconception that you should be wary of. A standard drink, which is 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, a 12-ounce beer or five ounces of wine, is eliminated by the body in approximately one hour. So, if you drink only one standard drink each hour, common sense would say that you are safe to drive at the end of each hour.

However, there are many factors that affect how fast your body eliminates alcohol from your system. It’s also the reality that many of the drinks people have at bars or restaurants have more or less than a standard drink, so it’s difficult to gauge just how much you’ve had.

What should you do if you plan to drink?

If you plan to drink, the best option for you is to plan to call for a ride home. Whether that means calling a friend or getting a taxi, it’s the only way to guarantee that you won’t be behind the wheel when intoxicated. There are plenty of options for getting home safely. If you do choose to drive and face a DWI, then you will need to do all you can to protect your reputation.


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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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