How many beers can I drink before I’m driving under the influence (DUI)?

September 11, 2017

As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), well over a million drivers every year are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The one piece of information that’s uniform across all 50 states is that if you’re driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more, you’re driving under the influence. If you’re a beer drinker, what comes to issue is the number of beers that you consume to put you at or over the .08 limit.

The variables
Unless a person hasn’t consumed any alcoholic beverages at all, it’s really impossible to predict a person’s blood alcohol content within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty. That’s because many different variables like a person’s age, weight, gender, the time of day and any food consumption during the day or while drinking figure into the equation. People have different tolerance levels for alcohol too. And if you’ve been drinking craft beer with a high ABV, almost nothing below applies as many of those beers contain a significantly higher amount of alcohol by volume.

Metabolizing alcohol
The constant factor that figures into the equation is that everybody metabolizes alcohol at about one drink per hour. That’s quantified at .016 blood alcohol content every hour. As opposed to what some people might say, there’s no way of speeding up that process.

For purposes of as accurate of an estimate as possible, we’ll assume that a person starts drinking beer with an empty stomach. He or she will feel that first beer, and that’s when impairment begins. After that, we’re forced to rely on calculations developed by the NHTSA. The NHTSA relies on .54 ounces of alcohol in one 12 ounce beer along with a person’s gender and that empty stomach.

For the girls
Two beers in one hour for a 100 pound female is going to put her just under the legal limit at .0794. Another sip or two from a third bottle is likely put her at or over the .08 legal limit. If she weights 130 pounds, two beers in an hour would put her at a .0583 blood alcohol level. At that weight, a woman might be able to consume three beers in an hour and not become legally intoxicated.

For the guys
Two beers in an hour for a 150 pound male is estimated to give him a blood alcohol content of .0395. At 200 pounds while consuming the same amount of beer in the same amount of time, a male’s estimated blood alcohol content would be around .0266. Although impairment has started, that 200 pound male would be well below the legal limit. According to the NHTSA calculator, he can legally consume a third beer and still drive under the .08 legal limit. Six beers in two hours would put him over that legal limit though.

Keep this in mind

If you’ve been drinking we highly recommend that you do not drive; take an Uber instead or do anything other than drive. Remember that .08 isn’t necessarily the magic number. You can still get arrested for DUI if you’re impaired by alcohol, a drug or any combination thereof. If you’ve been arrested for DUI or driving while impaired in or around Spokane, contact our Spokane DUI Lawyer right away for a free consultation. You still have rights, but you must take affirmative steps to protect them.

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