Drinking when you have to drive can be a dangerous game. Once you’ve started drinking, the effects of alcohol on your judgment mean that it can be difficult to know when you’ve had too much and should put down your keys.
What factors affect your BAC?
Your basic stats: Your weight and gender have a big effect on your BAC. You probably know that the same amount of alcohol will have more of an effect on the BAC of someone who is 100 lbs as compared to someone who is 175 lbs. However, there are other biological factors that can result in different BACs between drinkers. Compared to women, men carry a greater amount of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the body. Additionally, women's hormone levels can impair their ability to absorb alcohol, resulting in a higher BAC after consuming the same number of drinks as even a similarly-sized man.
How fast you drink: The faster you drink, the faster your blood alcohol level will rise. In order to keep your BAC under control, drink more slowly, and make sure you have at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink.
How much you've eaten before drinking: How much you've had to eat before drinking or while you drink can help to absorb the alcohol. That said, eating after you've already become drunk won't make you sober.
What factors DON'T affect your BAC?
What you drink: Contrary to what you might have heard, there's no difference in effect on blood alcohol levels between different types of drinks if they have the same amount of alcohol. An average 5-ounce glass of wine, 1 1/2 -ounce shot of liquor, 12-ounce beer, and 12-ounce wine cooler all have the same amount of alcohol, and the same effect on BAC. Each of these drinks will increase the BAC of a 150-lb man by about .02%, and the body needs about an hour to break down that amount of alcohol. As you can see, it doesn't take many drinks for someone to go over the legal driving limit of .08%.
Your ability to "hold a drink" has no effect on your BAC: Regular drinkers may appear to be less drunk than an infrequent drinker who has consumed the same number of drinks. But even if you seem less drunk or it requires more alcohol for you to feel drunk, your BAC will still be elevated if you've had several drinks in a short period of time.
Your caffeine consumption doesn't affect your BAC: If you've been out drinking, having a cup of coffee or an energy drink might make you less drowsy than before, but it won't lower your BAC. Only time will reduce the amount of alcohol in your system after you've become drunk.
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