You’ve had a few drinks and you’re feeling woozy. You’re now wondering whether you’ll sober up in no time to drive home or if it’s more logical to call an Uber. Or perhaps you’ve had a bit too much to drink over lunch, only to find out you have to attend an emergency Zoom meeting in a few hours.
How long does it take to get your wits back together after drinking alcohol?
The time you need to sober up typically depends on how much alcohol you consume. Generally, the body can metabolize ½ to 1 standard drink per hour. Drinking 1 bottle of regular beer in an hour means you could expect the alcohol to leave your body in 1 to 2 hours.
If you do the math, the more you drink, the longer the alcohol stays in the body. If you had a dozen shots of tequila, it would take more time for the alcohol to leave your body compared to having two bottles of beer.
The side effects like dizziness, loss of coordination, and headache could disappear much sooner but that does not mean that the alcohol will be completely gone.
To understand this better, it’s important to discuss how much alcohol is needed to raise your driving under the influence (DUI) as well as learn at what rate alcohol usually leaves the body.
How much alcohol does it take to raise your BAC level?
Every person is unique so the way alcohol affects the body will be different. Factors such as age, weight, height, and metabolism all influence how much alcohol is needed for someone to feel intoxicated. There are people who feel drunk after just a couple of drinks, while there are also serious drinkers who still feel fine even after downing a six-pack.
However, just because you think you still feel okay, that does not mean that your BAC is not increasing. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your BAC will be. Typically, the higher your BAC, the more intense the side effects are.
In the United States, having a BAC of over .08% means you are legally drunk and can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Not many people are aware that it doesn’t really take much to get to this point.
So, just how much is your BAC raised per drink?
As a general rule, your BAC can be raised by .02% to .05% for every one standard alcoholic drink you consume in an hour. As mentioned earlier, the BAC increase will depend on different aspects but weight and sex are usually common differentiating factors.
A man weighing 240 lbs. will have a BAC of .02% after having one standard drink per hour. On the other hand, a woman weighing 100 lbs. drinking the same amount of alcoholic drink will have a .05% BAC. On average, a standard drink in an hour can raise the BAC level of a man or woman weighing 140 to 160 lbs. by .03%.
The driving under the influence (DUI) defines a standard drink as a drink that contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which can be found in:
- 12 oz. of regular beer with about 5% alcohol
- 5 oz. of wine with about 12% alcohol
- 5 oz. of distilled spirits with about 40% alcohol
If you drink 3 glasses of wine in an hour, your BAC level will be at around .09%. If you are drinking an entire bottle of wine (approximately 5 glasses), that means your BAC will go up to .15%. Generally, the heavier you are, the lower the BAC increase per hour.
At what rate does alcohol leave the body?
There are many different tips that you can find online on how you can sober up fast – taking a shower, drinking coffee, eating greasy food, and more. While doing these things can clear up your head momentarily, the truth is that only time will cause the alcohol to leave your body.
Alcohol leaves the body at a constant rate of .015% per hour. Since one standard drink can raise your BAC by .03% (on average), then it will take 2 hours for all the alcohol to leave your body. Or half of the drink per hour.
Calculating the time that you need to sober up
To calculate the approximate time that you need to sober up, you have to first multiply the number of drinks you had by .03%.
For example, if you had 10 beers in a span of 2 hours, that will be .30% BAC. Your body will only be able to metabolize .015% per hour so subtract .030%, which will give you a .27% BAC at the end of your two-hour drinking session. If you subtract .015% per hour, it will take 18 hours for the alcohol to completely leave your body. Again, some of the side effects might disappear earlier but it takes approximately that many hours for your BAC to go back to zero.
Let’s say you finished drinking at 2 AM. If you plan to drive for work at 8 AM, your BAC could still be at .18% and you are still considered legally drunk. Assuming you do not ingest any more alcohol, your BAC will be back to zero by 8 PM.
Avoiding Alcohol Abuse
Many people drink alcohol not realizing that they are already drinking too much. It does not take a lot to raise your BAC and get you drunk. What’s more concerning is that drinking alcohol regularly could lead to alcohol abuse and many other dangerous consequences.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, get help today.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center.