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How Many Drinks Must I Have to Reach a .08 BAC?

Learn how many drinks it takes for your body to reach a blood alcohol content of .08 in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


People often ask how many drinks it will take to reach a blood alcohol level of .08. They ask that because .08 is the legal limit for what's considered driving under the influence, now in all 50 states. It's difficult to answer that question because what takes one person to reach that limit will be different than the next person, based on one's body composition, a woman versus a man. Women absorb alcohol more quickly than men and will reach that level more quickly than a male counterpart, even a male of the same weight and body stature. So, you really can't clearly answer that question. That's different by person. However, if you've actually reached the level of .08, which is again, considered the legal limit of intoxication in order to drive, then everyone's body excretes the alcohol at the same rate. It would take approximately six hours for your body to have no alcohol in it from a level of .08 because you're body excretes alcohol at a level of .015 blood alcohol content per hour, after you stop drinking. There's nothing you really can do to speed up that process. That is just what will happen. So, it will take, again, approximately five and a half to six hours for your body to have no alcohol content in it. But it'll take about two hours for you to be low enough where you're well below that legal limit.

In terms of how long it takes anyone to get to that level of .08, again, that really does depend on many factors, so it would be very rare for anyone to reach that limit after one drink. One drink being defined as one 12 ounce beer, one 6 ounce glass of wine or 1-1/2 ounces of hard liquor. Most people would not reach that level, even if they feel a bit inebriated. However, depending on your body stature, so a small woman will reach that level much more quickly than a large man, even if they both are not particularly heavy drinkers. Of course, someone who's a heavy drinker, despite their body size, will have a higher tolerance and it will take more drinks to reach that level.

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