How Many Drinks Until I Reach .08?

As you may know, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Texas with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater. While almost anyone could tell you that this would result in an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DWI), not many could tell you how many drinks it would take to push you over the legal limit.

Charts, BAC calculators and general rules of thumb could all be used to gain a general understanding of just how many drinks it would take to reach 0.08 percent, but it is important to understand that it will vary from person to person. For this reason, we believe the most accurate way to determine this would be to take the following variables into consideration.

 Warning: No Chart Can Accurately Predict BAC Levels

#1: The Amount Of Alcohol In Each Drink

One of the most significant variables to take into consideration is the amount of alcohol that is actually consumed with each drink. While most charts will factor in the number of drinks that an individual ingests during the course of an hour, it is important to understand that the alcohol content could vary from drink to drink — especially when ordering anything other than beer. Some bartenders are more generous than others are when mixing a drink or pouring a glass of wine, so you should not assume that one drink contains the same amount of alcohol as the next. To combat this, you should always remain aware of how the alcohol has affected your body after each drink you consume.

#2: The Size Of The Person Who Is Drinking

Another factor to consider is your overall size. Alcohol will affect each person differently, depending on their lean body mass, so you should not assume each person could drink the same amount before reaching a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. Since alcohol does not distribute to fatty areas, however, a heavyset person with a greater amount of body fat will not be able to drink any more than a thinner person. Rather, it depends on the similarity of their lean body mass. For this reason, it could be assumed that a 120-pound person would only be able to drink half as much as a 240-pound person before reaching a BAC of 0.08 percent if they have a similar body fat ratio.

#3: The Gender Of The Person Who Is Drinking

Simply put, alcohol affects men and women differently. According to scientific research, a woman’s body will process alcohol at a different rate than a man’s. As a result, a female will generally reach a higher BAC level than a male after consuming the same amount of drinks — even if the man is no larger than the woman. This is due to a variety of factors, including the fact that women will typically have a higher proportion of body fat than males. It is important to understand that this standard will not hold true 100 percent of the time, however, as a number of other variables must also be taken into consideration. Even so, it may be a good idea to keep this in mind.

#4: The Period Of  Time In Which You Were Drinking

As a general rule of the thumb, the quicker you consume a drink, the stronger its effects. If you were to sip on a beer during the course of an hour, for example, it would affect you differently than it would if you were to pound it down in a matter of seconds. While each person’s body will process alcohol at a different rate, it is generally true that the body can only eliminate about 0.75 alcoholic drinks per hour. For this reason, it could take about eight hours to burn off a six pack of beer. Every person is different, however, so it may take one person longer to process and eliminate alcohol than the next. That being said, it is always a good idea to keep track of the number of drinks that you have consumed in an hour.

#5: Drinking On An Empty Stomach

While it is not a precise science, the presence of food in your system can help to slow down the absorption of alcohol into your blood. Because of this, you could expect to reach a higher blood-alcohol concentration much quicker when you are drinking on an empty stomach. By eating a good-sized meal before or during the course of drinking, you may be able to limit its effects on your body. If you are taking other variables into consideration when determining how many drinks it would take to reach 0.08 percent, you must also account for the amount of food in your system, as the presence of food could create drastically different results when contrasted with a night of drinking on an empty stomach.

Should I Submit To a Breath Test Or Voluntary Blood Test?

Even after taking all of the aforementioned factors into consideration, predicting your own BAC level is risky at best. If you are unsure of whether or not a breath or blood test will show a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or greater, it is advisable that you do not voluntarily offer a sample. By contacting a DWI attorney before giving any type of evidence to the police, you may be able to avoid an arrest.

Useful Resources

Please refer to information provided by any Internet source with care and keeping in mind that every individual is different.

Jim Medley and Associates
1208 Edwards Street HoustonTX77007 USA 
 • 713-668-4589