Last updated on November 2, 2021

How Many Drinks Can I Have Before My BAC Is Over .08?

Blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is considered above the legal limit and automatically is a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. You will be arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence because of your BAC.

But if your BAC is beneath 0.08 percent, you can still be arrested. This is important to remember when enjoying yourself over a few cocktails or socializing with friends. Any BAC level above 0.00 percent can be reason for a DUI charge if a police officer attests you are noticeably impaired. Such situations include driving with children in the car or being under the legal drinking age of 21 at the time of your impairment behind the wheel.

When Your BAC Clock Starts

Your blood alcohol content can be measured just minutes after your first drink. Technically, and according to “average circumstances,” you are usually able to have one drink per hour to remain within safe BAC limits. Under this standard of “one drink per hour,” you can typically have one bottle of beer or a five ounce glass of wine. A 1.5 ounce shot of hard alcohol or distilled spirits typically counts as a standard drink.

But “average circumstances” rarely apply to anyone drinking alcohol. Some people become impaired after only one drink. So it is never safe to drink and drive, because you can be considered “noticeably impaired” and even be arrested despite a BAC under the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or arrested for being noticeably impaired, it is very important that you gain immediate legal assistance in order to have a chance of defending yourself against these serious charges. Call a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your case and rights are protected.

Factors Affecting Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

There are many factors that can affect how alcohol is absorbed by your system and what your BAC registers. Every person is different in how they are able to tolerate alcohol and how their BAC measures. Each individual can even vary in how their own BAC is influenced from one day to the next.

Common factors that influence BAC can include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Rate of drink consumption
  • Whether you have eaten before drinking
  • Type of food you have eaten prior to drinking
  • How quickly drinks are consumed
  • Strength of the beverages
  • Your body type
  • Your fat and muscle content ratio
  • Your metabolism
  • Whether you are well hydrated
  • Your emotional state
  • Any medications you are taking
  • How tolerant you are to alcohol by nature
  • Whether you have carbonated beverages with your alcohol
  • Your overall health
  • How drinks are prepared

With so many issues affecting BAC, there is really no reliable or set number of drinks that one person can consume before reaching a BAC of 0.08 percent.


Determining Your BAC

Without taking a blood test or using invasive methods of measuring your BAC, you can estimate your own blood alcohol content. Those include:

  • Taking a self-assessment: As you drink toward the 0.08 percent BAC limit for legal driving, you will become more socially extroverted and less inhibited. If you are feeling “socially lubricated,” you are likely at or over the legal BAC. If you are experiencing mood swings, slurring your speech or making poor decisions, you are over the BAC. In essence, if you feel differently in mind or body, you should not get behind the wheel.
  • Using the one drink per hour rule: At first, you can easily ensure you only drink one drink per hour. But as drinks flow and people start enjoying themselves, this becomes incredibly difficult to accurately track. Also, bartenders or others making the drinks can vary how they are concocting beverages from one to the next.
  • Employing BAC charts and calculators: BAC charts and calculators can be found on the Internet. They can help you determine your approximate BAC according to your gender, body size and other factors. But again, individual differences and strength of drinks come into play and render these tools fairly ineffective.
  • Using your own Breathalyzer testing unit: You can purchase your own BAC measurement device today. They are discreet, portable, easy to carry and use, and can prove quite accurate for gauging your BAC before getting behind the wheel.

If you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence, gaining experienced legal representation immediately is imperative. Speak with an experienced attorney immediately to ensure your rights are protected and your defenses against the DUI charges are strong.

Posted in: DWI
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