How many drinks to get drunk? Calculate your blood-alcohol level
A person's blood-alcohol level is the result of a complex interaction of weight, gender, alcohol consumed, and time.
The basic formula for estimating a person's blood-alcohol concentration comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each drink in this calculation assumes a volume of .54 ounces of alcohol (one shot of distilled spirits, a glass of wine, or 12 ounces of beer).
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 1.28 million drivers were arrested in 2012 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (the latest data available). The arrest rate works out to one arrest for every 165 licensed drivers in the United States. In 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, making up 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
If you get pulled over and your blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit, you'll be arrested for drunk driving. If that leads to a conviction, it will result in much higher car insurance premiums — if you’re allowed to drive at all.
What is BAC?
The basic formula for estimating a person's blood-alcohol content or BAC comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each drink in this calculation assumes a volume of .54 ounces of alcohol (one shot of distilled spirits, a glass of wine, or 12 ounces of beer).
However, many variables can affect how quickly alcohol enters your blood, raising your blood-alcohol level. One drink in a small female makes for a higher BAC than in a large male, so it may take more drinks to equal the same BAC, but the metabolic rate to burn off the alcohol is the same for each. The body (regardless of gender or size) metabolizes alcohol at a rate of .016 blood alcohol content per hour – or about 1 standard drink per hour. Contrary to what some may say, there is no way to speed up getting sober.
How can I estimate my BAC?
This calculator helps you determine an approximation of what your blood-alcohol content would be if you drank a specific number of drinks over a certain period of time. Your blood alcohol level is affected by a number of factors including your age, weight, gender, time of day, physical condition, food consumed prior to taking a drink, other drugs or medication taken, and your tolerance level.
The calculator makes certain assumptions, such as drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. If you eat while you drink, the alcohol is absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream. Nonetheless, studies have shown that impairment begins with the first drink.
Understand your limits... and the consequences
Alcohol affects everyone differently. If you rarely drink, you could be severely impaired by a single beer. For the most part, by the time you feel drunk, you're well past the legal limit. It is a crime in all states to drive with a BAC at or above 0.08 percent, but additional laws and penalties vary widely from state to state.
Driving while impaired can have very serious consequences. Not only could you face fines, jail time, and increased insurance premiums, but an accident could leave you liable for injuries and property damages – or worse responsible for a fatality.
If you’ve had too much to drink, don’t risk ruining your life, and possibly someone else’s, by getting behind the wheel of a car. Though your car insurance’s liability would cover damages you do to others (though low limits or a serious accident could cause these limits to be surpassed) and collision would cover damage to your vehicle, your rates will skyrocket. Instead, call a friend, take a taxi, or summon a ride-sharing vehicle on your phone.
|BAC Level||Effects from Alcohol|
|0.02 - 0.03 BAC||No loss of coordination, slight euphoria and loss of shyness. Mildly relaxed and maybe a little lightheaded.|
|0.04 - 0.06 BAC||Feeling of well-being, lower inhibitions, and relaxation. Judgment is slightly impaired. Minor impairment of reasoning and memory, and less cautious. Your behavior can become exaggerated and emotions (ex. happiness or sadness) felt more intensely.|
|0.07 - 0.09 BAC||Impairment present in everyone. Driving skills such as vision, steering, lane changing and reaction time are impaired along with balance, speech, and hearing. Feelings of Euphoria in some. Self-control and caution are reduced. Riskier behaviors displayed. Judgment, reason and memory suffer. You are likely to believe that you are functioning better than you really are.|
|0.08 BAC is legally impaired and it is illegal to drive at this level.|
|0.10 - 0.12 BAC||Significant impairment to motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Probably not thinking straight.|
|0.13 - 0.15 BAC||Very obviously drunk. Severe impairment to judgment, perception, and major motor skills. Very slow reaction time. Blurred vision, loss of balance and slurred speech. Feelings of well being starting to be replaced by anxiety and restlessness (dysphoria). Vomiting common.|
|At .15 BAC you are 380 times more likely to be in a fatal crash than you are sober.|
|0.16 - 0.19 BAC||The drinker has the appearance of a "sloppy drunk." At this point, most drinkers begin to feel incapacitated. Many social drinkers will pass out. Nausea begins to set in and the drinker has difficulty focusing on any object.|
|The average BAC among fatally injured drivers is 0.17, which is also the average BAC nationally for persons arrested for drunk driving.|
|0.20 BAC||Out of it. Confused. Dizzy. Requires help to stand or walk. If injured may not feel the pain. Nausea and vomiting. The gag reflex is impaired and you can choke if you do vomit. Blackouts are likely.|
|0.25 BAC||All mental, physical and sensory functions are severely impaired. Near total loss of motor function control. Increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit and of seriously injuring yourself by falls or other accidents.|
|0.30 - 0.40 BAC||Extremely life threatening. You have little comprehension of where you are. You may pass out suddenly and be difficult to awaken. Complete unconsciousness. Coma is possible. This is the level of surgical anesthesia. Death may occur.|
|Over 0.45 BAC death will occur in most people.|
*Effects from alcohol chart courtesy of Lifeloc Technologies.