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Can I get a DWI the morning after a night of drinking?

You go out for a night of drinking. You head home around last call and hit the bed at 1:30 a.m. You have an appointment at 7:30 a.m. You may wake up feeling worse for the wear, but you brew up some coffee and hit the road. Are you still at risk for getting a DWI?

Alcohol metabolism

It’s entirely possible that you could be charged with a DWI, even after sleeping for several hours. This is due to how the body metabolizes alcohol. Without getting into the medical details, alcohol is slowly processed and ultimately eliminated from the body through oxidation, breathing, and sweating. In general, it takes the average-sized person 75 to 90 minutes to metabolize one standard-sized drink.

A standard-sized drink is considered to be one 12 ounce beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, or a normal shot of hard alcohol. Of course, alcohol content can vary depending on the type of drink and how heavy-handed the pour may be.

The metabolism process can vary from person to person, depending on several factors, including:

  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Whether the person’s stomach is full
  • The number of drinks consumed within an hour

Because it can take over an hour for the body to process one drink, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can increase long after you’ve stopped drinking. You could easily find yourself arrested for suspected DWI the next day.

If you’re feeling “off” after a night of drinking, don’t shrug it off as a mere hangover. You may be legally intoxicated. It’s best to avoid getting behind the wheel until a significant amount of time has passed.

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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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