December is National Drugged and Drunk Driving Awareness Month. Most of us feel pretty confident in our knowledge of drunk driving. We know that the legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent. We know that drivers who have a BAC above the legal limit are more likely to be involved in a drunk driving crash. We may also know how many drinks we can indulge in before reaching our legal limit. But, there’s something you may not know—no matter how many cups of coffee you drink, no matter how many cold showers you take, only time will sober you up.
Whether you drink beer, wine, or liquor, once the alcohol in your drink hits the bloodstream, there are only three ways for alcohol to leave the body:
- Your breath – Five percent of the alcohol is exhaled through the lungs. This is why breathalyzer tests work.
- Your urine – Five percent of the alcohol is removed by the kidneys and excreted in urine.
- Your metabolism – The remaining 90 percent of the alcohol in the body is broken down into acetic acid in a process known as metabolism.
Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that break down food and turn it into energy. Since alcohol can’t be stored in the body, it must be metabolized.
Are you a person with a fast metabolism or a slow metabolism? Your regular rate of metabolism doesn’t apply to alcohol. Everybody—old, young, fat, thin, healthy or sick—metabolizes alcohol at a rate of .015 percent of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) per hour. The time it takes to get sober is your blood alcohol concentration divided by .015.
There is no way to speed up the metabolic process. You may have heard that eating will sober you up. In fact, eating can slow the metabolism of alcohol because the food also needs to be metabolized. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat while drinking alcohol—eating food can reduce overall blood alcohol level. Just don’t count on a good meal to make you sober.
How long does it take to get sober?
BAC time to get sober:
- .02 – 1 hour, 20 minutes
- .04 – 2 hours, 40 minutes
- .06 – 4 hours
- .08 – 5 hours, 20 minutes
- .10 – 6 hours, 40 minutes
- .12 – 8 hours
- .14 – 9 hours, 20 minutes
- .16 – 10 hours, 40 minutes
- .18 – 12 hours
If you drink too much, you may think that a few hours of sleep will sober you up and leave you ready to drive. But, if you’ve had several drinks, you may have significant levels of alcohol in your blood—even the next morning. You may still be too drunk to safely drive.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver in Atlanta, the driver may use the time of his last drink as a defense. However, there is no excuse for driving drunk. You deserve accountability for your injuries. Call today to discuss your case with an Atlanta car accident lawyer. There is no charge for the consultation.