How Many Drinks Does It Take to Be Impaired?

drinking alcohol

This time of year is the most “let’s celebrate” season. There are parties, events, dinners, gatherings, etc., and many of these involve alcohol. The number of accidents involving alcohol consumption increases substantially this time of year. During the holiday season, the Department of Transportation reports: “Alcohol-impaired fatalities make up more than a quarter of all crash fatalities.“ Drunk driving is illegal in all 50 states, and law enforcement everywhere is on heightened alert. From mid December to January 1st is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over safety campaign. Contact us if you are involved in a car accident with another driver who had been drinking.

This season brings up a very common question many have on their minds. How many drinks can you have until you are over the legal limit? This question is really a tricky one to answer because the answer is different for everyone. Many factors affect the legal limit for each person such as weight, muscle mass, gender, food intake, hydration, and more.

What is the Legal Limit?

It is very important to understand what the “legal limit” means. Drunk driving, or over the legal limit, is determined by your blood alcohol concentration (BAC, the amount of alcohol concentrated in your blood stream). The legal limit in all 50 states is 0.08%. Any level at or above this percentage is over the legal limit and is a DUI/DWI in the waiting. Exact blood alcohol levels are hard to estimate. Bad judgement and impaired driving as a result of alcohol can cause an accident even before you reach the legal limit. The only truly safe BAC is 0.0% for everyone. If you do choose to drink alcohol and drive, there are some general rules of thumb.

Calculate Your Blood Alcohol Level

First, be mindful of your own limitations when it comes to alcohol consumption. Everyone is different. Impairment happens long before reaching the legal BAC limit of 0.08%. Second, A generally accepted is two drinks within one hour will usually place just about anyone close to or over the legal BAC limit. Three alcoholic drinks consumed within one hour one after another will most likely put you over the legal limit, no matter what your weight or gender is. Here is a BAC Calculator that can help you understand it better – Calculator.

Keep in mind, this BAC calculator is just an estimate and doesn’t take all the factors into account. Third, In reality your coordination and reaction time are affected at a much lower level than the legal limit. It is a good idea to wait forty-five minutes to an hour for each drink you have had before driving. For five drinks you should wait four or five hours after your last drink before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle. At this point it is probably best to Uber or stay put and sleep it off.

Are You at Risk for a DUI?

Driving drunk(over the legal limit), or after consuming any alcohol puts your health and safety, as well as others, at great risk, especially for an accident. Keep in mind, you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI/DWI even if you are not at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. An officer can make a DUI/DWI arrest if at any BAC if he or she believes the driver was impaired and driving is a way that was unsafe. A DUI/DWI is a serious matter and can have many negative consequences.

Why chance it? Have a designated driver, or with a ride service app a designated driver is always at your fingertips. There are always options besides getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Accidents happen in even the most ideal circumstances, adding alcohol only increases the likelihood of it happening. Don’t take the chance. Please do not drink and drive!

Remember: Legally Drunk, You’re Sunk!

About the Author

Angela Zervos
Angela has spent more than 20 years of her legal career fighting for personal injury victims – and against big insurance companies. As a true trial lawyer, she takes on a wide variety of personal injury claims, including those involving motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, medical malpractice, traumatic brain injuries, and wrongful death. Prior to starting her own law practice, Angela secured more than $80 million in settlements and jury verdicts for her clients – a 90 percent success rate since 2002. Her efforts on behalf of her clients have resulted in numerous accolades. For example, Angela maintains a “Superb” 10.0 rating from AVVO, an “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and she is ranked among the Top 100 civil trial lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association. Zervos & Calta, PLLC serves the entire Tampa Bay area – including Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, and Hillsborough County – from offices in Tarpon Springs, Spring Hill, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg.