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How long does it take for the body to metabolize alcohol?

Like most in Lynchburg, you likely understand the dangers and risks posed by driving while intoxicated. At the same time, social drinking may be perfectly fine if you plan to do it responsibly. In most cases, that means having a designated driver in your party. However, if the situation does not allow for that, the question then becomes how long after drinking are you not considered to be intoxicated.

The most reliable test used by law enforcement authorities to determine your level of intoxication is measuring the concentration of alcohol in your blood. It’s for that reason that the almost universally accepted standard for legal intoxication is a blood-alcohol content level of 0.08. According to information shared by the American Addiction Centers, the amount of time it takes your BAC to get above that level (and conversely, to fall below it), depends on factors such as:

  •          Your age
  •          Your weight
  •          How much food you have recently consumed
  •          Your ethnicity
  •          Any medications that you are taking

In general, in a normal adult with a regular build, a single ounce of alcohol will cause his or her BAC to rise by a level of 0.015 every hour. The body metabolizes alcohol at the same rate. Thus, after your BAC reaches the legal limit of 0.08, you can expect it to take roughly 5-6 hours to return to normal levels. Food in your stomach can absorb alcohol, which then increases the time it takes to metabolize.

Alcohol concentrations remain in your urine and on your breath for much longer. Those, however, are the factors often measured in field sobriety tests. If you have waited sufficient time for BAC levels to fall, yet are still arrested based on the results of field tests, a blood-alcohol level measurement may ultimately exonerate you. 

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Phone: 434-338-7028
Fax: 434-846-7113