Have you ever wondered why some people seem to “get drunk” faster than others? Or how some people can just “hold their liquor” better? The answer lies in understanding exactly what it means to metabolize alcohol. While this area of the law can be confusing, especially if you are facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, here is some general information to help you understand the concept of alcohol metabolism rate and how it relates to a DUI charge.
How Many Drinks Until I Reach the Legal Limit?
When we are discussing the “legal limit” we are actually talking about the amount of alcohol in a person’s system or blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In all U.S. states, the BAC limit is 0.08 percent or more at the time of driving as measured by a blood or breath test. In other words, you will be considered “per se” under the influence of alcohol if your BAC is at 0.08 percent or greater. Of course, this doesn’t refer to being under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.
So, how many drinks does it take for a person to reach that limit? There isn’t a magic number, unfortunately. Generally speaking, alcohol is absorbed into the blood relatively quickly and metabolized more slowly. For example, an average person weighing 150 pounds can add 0.02 percent to their BAC per hour, while removing (metabolizing) 0.01 percent per hour.
The answer also depends on several factors, including:
Alcohol Burn Off Rate
Alcohol burns off at a rate of .016 BAC per hour, or about one average drink per hour. This rate is pretty standard regardless of your weight. What differs is how a person’s BAC rises. A smaller female will have her BAC rise more quickly and with less alcohol than a larger male. For a male, it may take five or more drinks in an hour to reach a BAC of 0.08 percent, where it may only take two or three drinks for a female.
Factors that Affect Absorption
Most experts agree on a number of factors that affect a person’s absorption rate. Here is a list of some factors to consider:
Free Case Evaulation from a DUI/DWI Attorney
Getting pulled over and arrested for a DUI can be a life-changing event. Whether this is your first or third DUI arrest, you can have a free initial DUI case evaluation from an experienced DUI/DWI attorney in your jurisdiction. You'll be able to discuss issues such as alcohol concentration and you BAC level. Contact a DUI lawyer in your area today to learn more.