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How long does it take the body to metabolize alcohol?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Criminal Defense

A motorist in Rhode Island can be convicted of driving while under the influence if toxicology tests reveal that they were operating their motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, but how long does a driver have to wait after consuming alcohol before they can get behind the wheel without risking criminal charges? That is a simple question, but it does not have a simple answer. The human liver can process about one drink every hour, but this rate can be influenced by age, gender and body weight.

Age and gender

A standard drink contains about half an ounce of pure alcohol. A glass of wine, 12 ounces of beer and a shot of liquor are all standard drinks. An average person’s liver can process about one standard drink every hour, but this absorption rate slows down as we age. Gender also plays a role. Women metabolize alcohol more slowly than men because their bodies contain less water and produce less of the liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol.

Food and body weight

The blood and breath tests conducted before motorists are charged with DUI measure the amount of alcohol in the blood, which means larger people who have more blood do not become impaired as quickly when they drink. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause blood alcohol levels to surge. The body absorbs alcohol through the stomach lining, and this process is slowed when food is present.

Avoiding DUI charges

Counting hours and drinks is not the way to avoid being arrested for drunk driving. Some drinks are stronger than others, and some bodies metabolize alcohol more slowly than others. If you plan to consume alcohol at a social gathering, you can protect your driving privileges by choosing a designated driver or using a taxi or ride-sharing service to get home.