Can I drive 6 hours after drinking?
Does the One Drink One Hour Rule Work?
There are a lot of myths surrounding drinking and driving. One of the most common is that one drink an hour will keep your BAC below the legal limit but is this true? Let’s take a look.
What Is the One Drink an Hour Rule?
Many people follow the «one drink an hour rule» to avoid going over the blood alcohol content of 0.08%. Essentially, the one drink per hour rule means that as long as someone only consumes 1¼ ounces of hard liquor, one beer, or one glass of wine and no more over the course of an hour, then they are safe to drive.
However, while this rule has a catchy name and seems reasonable, it may not be as successful as you may think. Let’s take a closer look at why the one drink rule may not be so effective.
Unique to You
The most important thing to understand about blood alcohol content (BAC) is that while there is a legal limit, the amount of alcohol it takes to reach it may vary. Every body is different, and everyone has different body chemistry. These two factors are crucial in how quickly your body can digest substances.
One way to understand body composition and chemistry is with prescription medications. If you’ve ever been prescribed medicine or an antibiotic, you know that your doctor gives you a certain amount of dosages per day. This is based on your body’s ability to break down the chemicals inside the medication and your body composition, i.e., weight, height, body fat, etc.
Another way to look at this principle is by observing your friends or family members and how they eat. You probably know someone who seems to have an endless appetite, but they stay lean no matter how much they eat. Generally, these people have a higher metabolism which means they can eat the same amount of food as someone else but digest it faster.
Based on the above examples, it’s clear that everyone has a different relationship with digestion and metabolism. Both of these factors not only determine how quickly you can digest food but also alcohol. People with a higher metabolism may be able to process alcohol more quickly, which means it may take more drinks to get drunk. On the other hand, body fat and height may also make someone more of a «heavyweight» drinker than their peers.
Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules for how the human body processes substances like alcohol. Your ability to imbibe and process a drink or two is entirely unique to you.
Not All Alcohol Is Created Equal
In addition to basic body mechanics, different alcoholic drinks affect us differently. You may be able to drink a beer or two and go about your business, but hard liquor like vodka may make you feel «drunker» faster.
There are also alcohol «characteristics» for a reason. For example, tequila is generally thought of as the party liquor, while wine is more of a moody, relaxing drink. How potable alcohol may be to you can play as much of a role in the «one hour one drink» rule as your actual tolerance level.
Unfortunately, one of the methods people may use to drink and drive «responsibly» is based entirely on how they feel. In other words, if an individual doesn’t «feel» drunk, they’re OK to drive. However, this couldn’t be more wrong (or dangerous). As mentioned in the previous section, your body processes alcohol differently, and some drinks may be more effective than others.
While a mixed drink on vacation may not «feel» very alcoholic, your ability to drive may say otherwise. Whether you are charged with a DUI depends on your actual blood alcohol content, NOT how drunk you may or may not feel.
The key to drinking and driving is: don’t. Your body will process alcohol differently than your drinking buddies, and while you may not feel drunk per se, your BAC could land you in serious trouble. If you plan on drinking, drink responsibly by scheduling a designated driver. Regardless of whether you drank one drink in the last hour or more, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
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How Long Should I Wait to Drive After Drinking
If you have been drinking and are wondering if you can drive, you may ask yourself, “How long should I wait to drive after drinking?” The answer is no. You should never drink and drive, even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage.
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense with long-lasting repercussions. If you’re charged with drunk driving in any state (having a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of .08 or above, or driving impaired), you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. In addition, you may face steep fines and jail time.
The General Rule of Thumb: One Hour Per Drink
According to the National Institute on Alcohol, you should wait at least one hour for each standard drink. A standard drink in this context is 12 ounces of regular beer (usually 5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (usually 12 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (about 40 percent alcohol).
Other factors may affect your blood alcohol level; going by this general rule alone isn’t a sure-fire way to keep your BAC down.
Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or other common “remedies” also won’t help you “sober up” and bring down your BAC.
Your weight affects how fast your system can metabolize or process alcohol. The less you weigh, the faster alcohol absorbs into your bloodstream. Thus, you’ll become intoxicated more quickly than someone who weighs more.
Because of this fact, a person who weighs 170 pounds will generally have a lower BAC than a person who weighs 120 pounds — even if they both consume the same amount of alcohol within the same timeframe.
Believe it or not, your gender can make a difference in how your body processes alcohol. The University of Puget Sound found that those assigned to be females at birth have less water content in their stomachs than men, making them more sensitive to the same amount of alcohol.
In addition, Stanford University refers to studies showing that women differ in body composition from men, and they lack some enzymes used to break down alcohol.
According to Web MD, the elderly may be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. As we age, it takes longer for our bodies to break down alcohol.
Alcohol on an Empty Stomach
The amount of food in your system affects how fast your body breaks down alcohol. If you drink on an empty stomach, you’ll become intoxicated faster.
Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Products
If you’re taking other substances, prescription or over the counter, your BAC may be affected. Prescriptions are suspect, especially certain families of drugs that can enhance drowsiness when combined with alcohol.
Even using supposedly innocent over-the-counter products such as cough syrup and mouthwash can result in a high BAC reading.
The Real Answer to “How Long Should I Wait to Drive After Drinking?”
To conclude, there’s no simple answer to the question, “How long should I wait to drive after drinking.” In fact, there’s no safe amount of alcohol that you can consume without being impaired. And, there’s no magic formula to calculate how long you’ll need to wait after drinking before you can safely get behind the wheel.
The only sure way to keep your blood alcohol level below the legal limit is to abstain from drinking altogether before you drive. Rather than taking your chances, it’s safest to have a designated driver or make arrangements for a ride home.
About RoadGuard Interlock
RoadGuard Interlock has been serving customers in the United States for over 25 years. If you’re required by law to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, you’ll want to work with the most trustworthy provider in the ignition interlock industry.
For peace of mind, reliability, and restored independence, RoadGuard Interlock is your best bet. Contact us to find an installation location near you. Finally, read RoadGuard Interlock’s blog for more safe driving or responsible drinking tips and stay in the know!
*Links to any third-party websites herein are provided for your reference and convenience only. RoadGuard Interlock did not create nor develop and does not own any such third-party websites. RoadGuard Interlock does not endorse nor support the content of, nor any opinions stated in any such third-party website links. RoadGuard Interlock is not responsible for the content of any third-party website or its accuracy or reliability. Nothing contained in this article or any such third-party website shall be considered legal advice or be deemed to constitute legal advice. For any legal advice concerning a DUI arrest, charge, conviction, or consequences thereof, you should contact an attorney of your choice.
How Many Hours After Drinking Can I Drive?
You only had a few drinks, but you can tell that you are inebriated. So, you decide that you will wait it out and drive again when it is safe – but when is that?
Determining how long you should wait before driving, especially after drinking, is difficult to say. Numerous factors play a role here, and there is no quick reference chart saying you should drive X hours after X drinks.
By understanding the factors that play into the calculation and knowing your body, you can make a better decision when it is the right time to drive versus staying away from your car for a little longer. Worse case, you can always call a friend, rideshare, or taxi to take you home if you need to be somewhere and you cannot wait it out. Paying a few bucks for a ride is much better than a few thousand for a DUI.
Know the BAC in Colorado
First, you cannot drive if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or more. Usually, officers measure this on a breathalyzer, but that is after you are already pulled over on suspicion of a DUI. You can purchase plug-ins that work with a smartphone to read your BAC, which might be a worthwhile investment if you enjoy the occasional drink with friends after work and want to make sure you’re okay to drive home.
Regardless, you could still be charged with a DWAI even if you are under 0.08 percent. If your driving is obviously impaired, officers can arrest you and be charged with a DWAI. So, it is important to review the factors and how alcohol affects everyone differently to see where you fall on the list.
Know the Factors That Can Influence How Intoxicated You Are as You Drink
Two people of the same height, weight, and age have two drinks. One feels incredibly inebriated, while the other is totally sober. What happened?
It is more than just the drink count. While playing a role, even height and weight are not the only factors that determine how alcohol affects one person to the next.
Before assuming you can drive after two hours because your friend can, here are a few factors you should investigate first:
As you age, your body metabolizes slower. Therefore, someone who is younger may metabolize alcohol faster than someone even in their 30s or 40s.
Your Health and Any Underlying Medical Conditions
First, your overall health plays a role in how your body tolerates alcohol. Some people cannot process alcohol the same or as quickly. This means you could feel intoxicated longer than someone who is in better health. Certain medical conditions, and the medications you take for them, also play a role here. If you have any prescription medications that state you should not combine them with alcohol, there is a reason. Alcohol, once combined with these medications, can have an enhanced effect on your body. This means you may feel intoxicated longer and be unable to drive safely despite the fact you didn’t drink that much.
Other health conditions, such as kidney or liver disease, can make you feel intoxicated longer than those without these chronic conditions.
Height and Weight
The bigger you are, the more alcohol it takes to bring you above the 0.08 percent mark. Obviously, a person who is 6’2 and weighs 200 pounds would have a higher threshold for drink counts than someone who is 5’2 and weighs barely 110 pounds.
You can find quick charts online that will reference your height and weight and tell you how many drinks you can safely have and stay under the limit – but these are guesses at best. Again, other factors can play a role in how truly intoxicated you are after those drinks, so you shouldn’t assume that because a chart says you can have two drinks safely, you are okay to drive.
How Frequently You Drink
People who rarely drink will feel the effects of alcohol much faster than someone who drinks frequently. Your body, like with any substance, builds a tolerance over time. The more alcohol you consume, the harder it is for your body to feel intoxicated. Regardless, you might feel fine, but your BAC could still be over the limit. So, do not assume you should drive just because you are “experienced” at drinking.
Whether You Ate That Day or Not
If you are drinking on an empty stomach, you may feel the effects of alcohol longer and faster than you would if you had a full meal just before you consumed alcohol.
The Standard 1-Hour per Drink Rule
Usually, you are safe to use the one-hour per drink rule. So, if you have two glasses of wine, you should wait two hours before driving. When you do an hour per drink, your body has time to overcome the other factors listed above, and hopefully, you have a safe enough BAC to drive.
Regardless, if it has been two hours, you had two drinks, but you still feel intoxicated, you shouldn’t drive. Just because the hour limit has passed doesn’t mean you are free to drive – you could still be intoxicated.
Don’t Risk a DUI – Have a Designated Driver
Instead of waiting for when you can drive, the best way to get where you need to go safely is not to drink and drive at all. Having a designated driver is your best protection against a DUI.
A DUI is more than just jail time. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will not only serve time in jail, but you will also pay fines and have a permanent criminal record. The record may impact your employment capacity, and you could lose your driver’s license for up to one year – even for a first offense.
If you or a loved one was arrested for a DUI, contact an attorney immediately. Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., can help you with your DUI case. Call him now to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation or request more information online.
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