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Can you drive after 5 hours of drinking?

How long should I wait to drive after drinking?

File picture of pint at a pub

FIREFIGHTERS have warned drivers they could still be over the drink-drive limit, ‘even if they feel fine’.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue says ‘time’ is the only way of getting alcohol out of your system — drinking coffee, sleeping or having a shower ‘doesn’t work’.

But how long should you wait to drive after drinking?

Emergency services have put together a handy guide so drivers can calculate how long they need to wait before getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

For every drink, the time doubles, but drivers need to add an hour before setting off.

Here are a few examples:

  • For one glass of wine you will be okay to drive after 4.5hours.
  • For one pint of 4percent beer you will be okay to drive after 3.5hours.
  • For a single shot you will be okay to drive after 2.5 hours.
  • For two glasses of wine and a shot you will be okay to drive after 9.5hours.

The guide:

Oxford Mail:

Writing on Facebook, the fire service warned: «Never drive if there’s even a slim chance you are still ‘under the influence’.»


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Drink Driving Limit: How Long After Drinking Can I Drive?

Drink Driving Limit: How Long After Drinking Can I Drive?

Australians are a social bunch. Enjoying the beautiful weather around a barbecue with friends is part of our culture. On such occasions, you might have a drink or two.

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Then, there’s the task of getting home. We know that driving drunk is an absolute no-go, but if you’ve had just a couple of drinks spread over several hours, you might have contemplated getting behind the wheel.

At some point, all drivers have wondered how long after drinking can I drive?

As we head into the silly season — where drinks are flowing and parties are in full swing — it’s especially important to solidify our understanding of drink driving rules in Australia.

This guide unpacks everything you need to know about the drink-driving limit so that you can help to keep our roads, and everyone on them, safe.

What Defines Drink Driving?

There are two types of drink-driving offences.

One is exceeding the Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA), and the other is Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Exceeding the PCA is the most common form, and these cases are usually identified during routine police breath testing.

DUI describes the impaired ability to control a vehicle.

What Does BAC Stand For?

The BAC refers to Blood Alcohol Content.

It describes the limit of how much alcohol can be present in a person’s blood in order for them to safely operate a vehicle.

What is the Legal Drink Driving Limit?

For full licence holders, the maximum BAC is 0.05%.

For learners, provisional and probationary licence holders, taxi and bus drivers, and drivers operating vehicles over 15 tonnes, any measure of alcohol in the blood is a breach of licence conditions. Your BAC must be 0.00%.

When Can I Drive After Drinking?

So, now comes the question most of us have asked ourselves at some point: how long after drinking can I drive in Australia?

Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. There are a number of different factors that determine your BAC and how quickly you metabolise alcohol, including

  • Your sex
  • Your weight
  • Your age
  • What type of drinks you consumed
  • What you’ve eaten
  • How much you’ve eaten
  • Supplements or medications you’re taking
  • Fitness levels

For this reason, there is no prescribed ‘wait time’ between drinking and driving that guarantees a safe BAC level.

Small amounts of alcohol leave the body in urine, breath, and sweat. A healthy liver will break down less than one standard drink per hour, but if your liver is damaged, this can take longer.

Have you ever heard that coffee, showers, water, and food can help sober you up? While they may make you feel better, these remedies will not change your BAC levels. Time is the only thing that can do that.

After a heavy night of drinking, it can take over 18 hours for your BAC to fall back to zero. In fact, many people are charged with drink driving offences the day after a night out.

How Long After Drinking Can I Drive on P Plates?

If you’ve recently graduated from a learner’s licence to a probationary licence, you’ll be relishing the freedom of driving without a supervisor or instructor.

However, there are still a number of rules and restrictions you must abide by when holding a probationary licence.

A probationary licence does not come with the same BAC permissions as a full licence. Your BAC must be 0.00% when holding a learner’s or probationary licence.

That means you may not, under any circumstances, consume an alcoholic beverage and then drive.

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How Many Drinks Can You Have and Drive?

The number of drinks you can have before driving will differ from person to person, depending on the various factors mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this question.

The only way you can be sure you won’t be driving above the 0.05% limit is not to drive after drinking.

How Many Drinks is 0.05?

Many people operate under the generalised rule that 2 standard drinks in the first hour will raise your BAC to 0.05%.

This rule of thumb also states that a standard drink for each subsequent hour will maintain your BAC at 0.05%. Any more than that, and your BAC will rise above the 0.05% legal limit.

However, it’s important to remember that this rule is oversimplified.

As mentioned, various factors determine the way your body absorbs and responds to alcohol.

Additionally, alcohol concentrations vary between drinks. For example, 40% proof Vodka will increase your BAC faster than a 4% beer. Serving sizes also act as another variable, and pre-mixed drinks complicate things further.

Consider this; how can you calculate the number of standard drinks you consumed from a shared bottle of wine? What about the drink you took just a few sips of? Do you know how much vodka was in the drink your friend mixed for you?

Counting drinks is not a safe or reliable way to determine whether or not you can drive.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the Blood?

Generally, it takes the body around an hour to process one standard drink.

However, two people can consume the same amount of alcohol and produce different BACs due to the aforementioned factors that influence how alcohol is absorbed into the body.

Blood Alcohol Calculator

There is a range of BAC calculators online that can be used to give you a rough estimate of your BAC levels.

Keep in mind that these calculators only provide estimates and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy. Under no circumstances should these calculators be used to determine whether or not you should get behind the wheel.

You can also purchase breathalysers from a variety of online websites and car accessory stores. If the price for the device seems too good to be true, it probably is; the technology in cheaper versions is likely dated and inaccurate.

If you’re going to purchase a breathalyser to get an idea of your BAC levels, opt for a device from a reputable brand. Even still, the results from these devices will not be as accurate as the results from the official police BAC reader.

A calibrated testing machine is the only way to measure your BAC accurately.

The only way to ensure you are under the legal limit is to follow this simple rule: if you are going to drink, do not drive.

For the safety of yourself and other road users, if in doubt, sleep it out.

What’s the Penalty for Drink Driving?

Laws and penalties vary from state to state.

If convicted of an offence, the court will revoke your licence for a certain amount of time, depending on; your level of intoxication, other offences, and if you’ve had a prior history of drink-driving.

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Once their licence has been returned, anyone who has committed a drink-driving offence must install an alcohol interlock into their vehicle for a set period.

Fully-licenced drivers who measure a BAC of between 0.05 to 0.07% will receive a fine and incur 10 demerit points. For drivers who record a BAC over 0.07%, the licence will be cancelled, and they will need to install an interlock for at least six months when relicensed.

Repeat drink drivers will have their licence cancelled and are required to install an interlock.

Learner and probationary drivers who have a BAC below 0.05% will have their licence cancelled for three months. They will also need to install an interlock for at least six months when they are licensed.

Remember, the consequences of losing your licence are significant. For many people who require a car for work, this can result in a loss of employment.

In some cases, a drink-driving offence can lead to prison time.

As of 2011, it is also an offence to drink alcohol while sitting next to a learner driver, even if there is no alcohol in the driver’s breath or blood.

Don’t Risk It

The only way to ensure you’re not driving over the Australian drink driving limit is not to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol.

There is no one answer to the question of how long after drinking can I drive, so your best bet is to exercise an abundance of caution.

If you’re planning to drink, rope in a mate to be the designated driver, or catch an uber or taxi home.

No night out is worth risking a life.

Alcohol 101: Learning New Facts and Remembering What You Forgot

10Alcohol Facts

10Alcohol Facts

Think you know everything you need about alcohol? Guess again. This Alcohol 101 primer will not only teach you new things but also remind you of the facts you may have forgotten.

1. One drink is not necessarily one serving of alcohol.

One serving of alcohol is .6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. For a 12 fl oz beer, 5% alcohol is one serving of alcohol in one serving of beer. “High Gravity” beers have an alcohol content of 8% or higher- a higher serving of alcohol in one serving of beer. In addition, we tend to over-serve ourselves. One alcohol serving of a 12% wine is 5 fl oz, more than half the size of most wine glasses. Lastly, Cocktails usually contain more than one shot (1.5 fl oz of 40% proof liquor is one serving), as well as other alcoholic ingredients such as liquors.

2. It takes more than one hour to metabolize one serving of alcohol.

This is particularly important to keep in mind if you drive yourself somewhere and end up having a drink. Since most people have a blood alcohol level of .08 by the time they have their third drink, count on at least one hour, preferably more, without alcohol before you get behind the wheel. If you have consumed more than three drinks, add at least another 30 minutes for each drink. Of course, the best solution is to either not drink or not drive at all.

3. It takes 30 minutes to feel the effects of alcohol.

It may take an hour to metabolize a drink, but it takes approximately thirty minutes before you feel alcohol’s effects. This is a good gauge for pacing yourself. Drinking more than one drink every 30 minutes means you are probably drinking too much, too fast. Slow yourself down, and if you find yourself feeling thirsty before those 30 minutes have passed, try a glass of water first.

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4. Several things factor into how much alcohol affects you.

You need to consider not only what you drink but also how much you have eaten, what you have eaten, your gender, your weight, and any medications you may have taken. The less you weigh, the higher your alcohol blood content will be after one serving. After two servings of alcohol, a 150lb man will have an alcohol blood content (BAC) of approximately .058, while a man of 225 lbs will have a BAC of .039. Men have more body water, allowing their system to dilute alcohol more than women. This means men can drink the same amount of alcohol as a woman of similar weight and not get as drunk. Additionally, women process alcohol more slowly, meaning they will feel the effects of alcohol longer.

Eating a meal before drinking will dilute the alcohol, slowing the absorption of alcohol into the body. People who do not eat before drinking can have a BAC three times higher than those who do. Continuing to snack, especially on carbohydrates like bread or crackers, and drinking water while you are drinking will help your body process the alcohol and help prevent a hangover. Even if you do not take medication regularly, be very aware of what medications you have taken in a 24-hour period. Something as harmless as cold medicine can increase alcohol’s effects on you.

5. Even though alcohol may make you feel good, it is still a depressant.

While some people do become psychologically depressed when drinking alcohol, everyone becomes physiologically depressed when they drink alcohol. Certain brain and body functions become less active as alcohol affects the central nervous system. It slows breathing, relaxes muscles, and impairs thinking. Slurred speech, lack of coordination, and slowed reaction time are all caused by depressing the central nervous system. So, even if you are not feeling morose, your body is still being depressed when you consume alcohol.

6. Alcohol dehydrates you.

This may seem counter-intuitive because you are introducing liquids into your body. Alcohol is actually a diuretic, which means you are losing more liquids than you are gaining, namely through increased urination. If you are excessively consuming alcohol, you may vomit and lose even more important fluids. Even mild consumption of alcohol means more than frequent trips to the bathroom and thirst. Dehydration causes a dry mouth, headache, dizziness, insomnia, irritability, and dizziness. Yes, all the symptoms of hangovers are caused by mild dehydration. Severe dehydration can lead to brain damage, seizures, and death. To avoid mild and severe dehydration, limit your alcohol intake, drink water, eat non-salty foods, and avoid carbonated beverages.

7. Alcohol is a frequent factor in sexual assault.

This is not to suggest that if you are sexually assaulted and have been drinking it is your fault. Rape and sexual assault are never a victim’s fault. It is an unfortunate fact that ⅔ of date rape cases involve alcohol. For the assaulted, intoxication compromises their ability to fend off attacks, whether that be because of passing out, inhibited motor skills, or slurred speech. For the assaulter, intoxication loosens inhibitions and impairs thinking. Both parties cannot correctly assess the situation at hand. Remaining aware of alcohol consumption, and stopping when a limit has been reached, will allow individuals to control their situations better and reduce the risk of a sexual assault crime.

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8. If you want to sober up fast, well, you can’t.

Coffee. Water. Food. Fresh air. A cold shower. None of these will actually make an intoxicated person sober, even if they make them feel better. Whether you are drunk or simply buzzed, the only thing that will sober you up is time. If you are anxious to return home or stop feeling sick, those minutes can feel like hours, but all you can do is wait it out. That is why it is so important to drink alcohol appropriately. Once your blood alcohol rises or you cross from one level of drunkenness into another one, all you can do is wait for your body to metabolize the alcohol in your system.

9. Sleeping it off is a terrible idea.

The worst thing a severely intoxicated person can do is lie down. If you vomit, you could actually choke and die. If you are with someone who is intoxicated and must lie down, make sure the person is lying on his/her side and his/her head is turned to the side, then watch the person closely. If someone has alcohol poisoning, you should get the individual to the emergency room immediately. Signs of alcohol poisoning include unconsciousness, inability to be wakened, slow or irregular breathing, vomiting uncontrollably, and cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin. Alcohol poisoning can lead to coma or death. While waiting for medical attention, you want to keep the person alert and awake.

10. Alcoholism is defined by a dependence on alcohol, and “rules” for alcoholism are useless.

Some people subscribe to arbitrary rules as a way to monitor whether someone is an alcoholic. This is flawed. For example, some individuals think that if you never drink alone, you cannot be an alcoholic, and if you do drink alone, you are. The truth is neither indicates the presence or absence of a drinking problem. There are many different stages of alcoholism, and many alcoholics can be polysubstance abusers. Similarly, the type of alcohol you drink does not really matter. Abstaining from hard liquor or drinking hard liquor is not part of the criteria for determining if you are an alcoholic. All that matters is if the drink contains alcohol or not, regardless of whether it is wine, beer, or liquor.

If it is affecting your life, and/or if you cannot refrain from drinking without distress, then you have a problem with alcohol. If you are concerned about your drinking (or someone else’s), you should investigate further. You can either consult a professional or take one of the many online assessments to determine whether or not you are abusing alcohol.

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