How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

How long does alcohol stay in your system? The answer is essential in understanding the effects of drinking on your body and how it makes you behave. Such an understanding may help evaluate whether you are fit to drive, but as a rule, you should always err on the side of caution before getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

That’s because many variables determine how alcohol moves through your system, and these can change from person to person. The length of time you have been drinking is one factor, as is your age, weight, contents of your stomach, and overall health. Scientific research has provided a broad understanding of alcohol’s effects.

Here’s an overview of what you need to know about how long alcohol stays in your system from the attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group of Las Vegas. The answer to that question may be relevant to our attorneys in a case involving driving under the influence (DUI) charges.

How Alcohol Impacts Driving Performance

How long does alcohol stay in your body?

The question of how long alcohol stays in your system determines whether someone is too drunk to drive. The more alcohol that is absorbed into your bloodstream, the greater the impairment you may experience in your ability to drive.

Nevada has established an objective standard under the law that determines if someone is driving under the influence. Anyone arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood (1/10 of a liter) in their system will face criminal charges.

The level of 0.08 grams per deciliter correlates to medical research that suggests the chance of crashing increases substantially with that level of blood alcohol content, marking a point at which your reaction times, judgment, and perceptions slow down significantly.

Understanding how long alcohol stays in your system can help indicate how rapidly someone might reach the 0.08 percent blood alcohol level. It’s essential to recognize that you can still be impaired below that level. The law will look to more subjective observations at lesser levels of blood alcohol content, such as excessive speeding, weaving, or tailgating as evidence of drunk driving.

A DUI arrest is a serious matter and involves complicated questions of science. If you are charged with DUI, you need an attorney immediately. The criminal lawyers at De Castroverde Law Group have experience in these cases and can help hold the government accountable for proving its cases beyond a reasonable doubt.

What Are the Main Factors in the Absorption of Alcohol?

As we pointed out earlier, every individual is different. There is no one correct formula for how drinking will impact a person’s behavior or how well they’ll drive.

Science has determined these main factors over the years:

  • How much alcohol is consumed over a certain period.
  • The individual’s weight and body fat percentage.
  • The age of the individual.
  • Whether the individual is a man or a woman.
  • The speed at which food and other nutrients are processed.
  • The level of health of the individual.

These categories yield some consistent outcomes. For example, an overweight person must consume more drinks to reach the legal limit than someone who weighs less. Your absorption rate of alcohol changes with age, and the older you are, the faster alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream. Because of these variables, it’s not possible to give a single, definitive answer to explain how long alcohol stays in your system.

Principles of Blood Alcohol Content

The liver determines how fast your body absorbs alcohol. Research indicates that alcohol reaches the bloodstream at a rate of about one drink each hour. In scientific terms, that correlates to about 0.015 grams per pound per hour.

Here are two examples of how these principles play out in reality:

  • A 210-pound man who consumes two glasses of wine and two glasses of beer over two hours will register a blood alcohol content of 0.052% at the end of that period.
  • A 125-pound woman who drinks the same amount over the same period will register a much higher blood alcohol content of 0.12% at the end of that period.

Time also plays a role because your blood alcohol content will decline as your liver works to process the alcohol. You eliminate one drink each hour from your system.

How is Blood Alcohol Content Determined?

If you have been stopped on suspicion of DUI, police will use several methods as the basis for their investigation. First, an officer’s observations of your behavior will be relevant in determining impairment, independent of an objective blood alcohol content test. Therefore, the initial step is to have a suspected drunk driver perform field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet backward.

Police may also administer a breath test using a device known as a Breathalyzer. This test could be conducted in the field or at the police station. Alcohol on your breath indicates the amount of alcohol in your system. Finally, blood and urine tests can also be taken to detect the presence of alcohol.

Remember that the alcohol level in your blood is only one factor in determining the effects on your judgment or coordination. Alcohol can continue having an impact even after your blood alcohol content returns to normal.

DUI Representation From De Castroverde Law Group

You should avoid drinking and driving altogether for your safety and that of others on the road. However, we know that arrests for DUI happen in Nevada. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group will help evaluate your case and represent you so the best possible outcome can be achieved. Our team includes several former prosecutors who understand the science behind blood alcohol content and how to challenge evidence in a court of law. Driving under the influence can have serious consequences, including jail time, fines, and a license suspension. Let De Castroverde Law Group of Las Vegas stand by your side and give you the help you need. Call for a consultation today.

Photo Credit: Drunk driving concept by Marco Velch Professional Photographer is licensed with CC BY 2.0