How Many Drinks Does It Take to Get to 0.8 BAC?

Florida law enforcement and judges treat all DUI cases with the highest priority. Florida DUI laws are especially strict. For example, unlike many other misdemeanor convictions, a DUI conviction cannot be expunged from your criminal record. It remains available for the public to see for decades after the incident. 

Avoiding a DUI arrest is always the best way to prevent a conviction. But how do you know how many drinks will give you a blood alcohol content (BAC) level over the legal limit? This blog post will explain how to understand alcohol’s effects on the human body and what you can do to prevent becoming another DUI statistic. 



How Alcohol Affects the Human Body 


Alcohol begins to affect your body even at low levels. A person drinking alcohol does not remain completely sober below a 0.08 BAC level and then suddenly become impaired when they hit the magic 0.08 number. 


Instead, alcohol’s effects on your brain’s cognitive and motor skills develop steadily as you continue to drink more alcohol.  


Current law across the United States generally provides that it is when your blood alcohol reaches a level of 0.08 that a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle becomes so impaired that it is a crime.  


The alcohol you drink is absorbed into your bloodstream and transported to your brain. Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces reaction time, both of which are especially important when driving a motor vehicle. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol interferes with the areas of the brain controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other accidental and negative outcomes. 


The absorption rate of alcohol depends on several factors, including the amount and type of alcohol consumed, the person’s body weight, gender, age, and whether there is any food in their stomach. Typically, it takes about one hour for the liver to metabolize one standard drink, which is defined as 14 grams of pure alcohol. 


So, drinking more than one drink per hour is likely to increase the degree to which alcohol affects a person’s normal faculties. But the question of how many drinks it takes to reach a BAC of 0.08% is not quite so simple. The rate at which each person absorbs alcohol and metabolizes it varies. 


For example, men tend to metabolize alcohol faster than women due to higher levels of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase in their stomach lining. And someone with food in their stomach will absorb alcohol more slowly. 


How Many Drinks Will Give You 0.08 BAC? 


To calculate one’s BAC, you must consider several factors, including the number of drinks a person consumed, the period over which they were consumed, and the individual’s weight and metabolism. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds may reach a BAC of 0.08% after consuming four drinks in two hours, while a person who weighs 200 pounds may require five drinks in the same period.  


Each person’s metabolism plays a crucial role in determining their BAC. Some people’s livers function more effectively, which can metabolize alcohol faster. Others may have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism or liver disease that affects their ability to metabolize alcohol. 


Number of Drinks Rule of Thumb? 


Some people rely on a general rule that says your blood alcohol content level increases by 0.02 for each drink. By that rule, four drinks are considered enough to put someone over the legal limit of 0.08. However, if those four drinks are consumed over the course of four hours, the person drinking one drink per hour is not likely to have a BAC of 0.08. 


Why? Because the human body metabolizes alcohol through the liver at a rate of about 0.02 per hour. For every drink a person has during the course of a single hour, their BAC will climb roughly 0.02.  


But this and other rules of thumb are not universally valid because the numbers vary according to gender, weight, and other factors. 


Below is a helpful chart projecting BAC based on how many drinks were consumed and the drinkers’ different physical characteristics and drinking patterns. This chart illustrates the wide range of impairment experienced by people of different physical makeup over time. 


As the above scenarios illustrate, the number of drinks required to reach a BAC of 0.08% can vary significantly depending on various factors, including body weight, metabolism, and drinking patterns. 

blood alcohol content chart
Credit: First Step Services, LLC

0.08 BAC Is Not the Legal Limit for Everyone in Florida 


Drivers with levels of blood alcohol content lower than 0.08 can face legal sanctions in Florida.  


Florida law sets the legal age limit for drinking alcohol at 21. Under the law, no driver under the age of 21 should have any alcohol in their bloodstream.  


  • Any driver under 21 years of age with a BAC of 0.02 will face a license suspension of six months. 
  • A second offense of driving with a BAC of 0.02 but under 0.05 will result in a license suspension of up to one year. 
  • If a driver under 21 has a BAC of .05 but under 0.08, their license will remain suspended until they complete a substance abuse program. 


How an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help 


The best way to avoid a DUI arrest or conviction is to never drive a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol. But most people are able to safely consume an alcoholic beverage and then drive. But consuming multiple drinks before driving can result in a police arrest or a tragic accident.  


Anyone can make a mistake in judgment. If you made a bad call and drove a vehicle after having too many drinks, you need the help of an experienced DUI defense lawyer. 


If your DUI or other alcohol-related charges are in Hillsborough County or Pinellas County, the law office of Stechschulte Nell can provide you with vigorous and skilled DUI defense representation. You need not feel that your DUI case is a lost cause.  


Florida DUI law requires the police and prosecution to comply with a long list of demanding procedures to sustain a DUI charge against any defendant. DUI is like other criminal offenses in that it requires the prosecutor to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can be sustained. 


But the prosecution’s evidence must meet highly demanding standards before being relied upon in a court of law.  


Read More > What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Florida 


Florida DUI Defense  


Experienced DUI defense lawyers like Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, have years of practice challenging the legality of the initial police traffic stop, testing the validity of the officer’s conclusions that a driver displayed indications of intoxication, and objecting to the improper and incorrect administration of field sobriety tests. 


Contact us for a free DUI case review with our skilled attorneys at 813-280-1244. 


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