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How Long Does It Take for Alcohol to Break Down In the Body?

Last updated 2 years ago

When you’re out with friends, monitoring your alcohol consumption is important in order to ascertain whether you’re capable of driving safely. However, your level of intoxication depends in part on how long it takes your body to break down the alcohol you have consumed. Read on to learn more about alcohol breakdown, blood alcohol content (BAC), and how understanding these factors can help you avoid DUI charges.

Alcohol Breakdown

It takes your body about two hours to break down the alcohol in one drink, or approximately 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. This is equivalent to a decrease of 0.015 blood alcohol content per hour. If you have a BAC of 0.15, it will take 10 hours for the alcohol to entirely leave your system. The decrease in blood alcohol can vary based on several factors, like your gender, your size, and the amount of food you have consumed that day. Be aware that drinking coffee or taking a cold shower will not make you sober up faster; once you’re feeling intoxicated, time is usually the only thing that can sober you up.

Measure of Intoxication

Your blood alcohol level will decrease over time, but you will still be intoxicated even after you have stopped drinking. Having four or five drinks within a few hours will put you over the legal limit, and though your BAC will decrease over time, you will feel the effects of the drinks for several hours. Be aware that your blood alcohol content will continue to increase after you stop drinking, as the alcohol is metabolized by your liver and then slowly broken down. It may be four or five hours before your BAC is below the legal limit and you are safe to drive again.

To be safe, don’t drive if you think you may be intoxicated. Because this is so difficult to measure and evaluate, it is easy to make mistakes, though. If you’re dealing with the consequences of a DUI arrest, contact drunk driving defense attorney Todd Landgren to help you through the process. Call (888) 738-0143 to schedule a consultation in the Huntington Beach area.


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use and access to this website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.


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