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How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System - Longer Than You May Think

December 31, 2013 | Category: DUI Accidents | Share

Research by the English car insurance company LV found that close to half of English drivers (46%) said they did not know how long they needed to wait after drinking before they could drive safely. In September 2009 a Detroit mother was arrested with a blood alcohol level of .29 percent while driving her child to school the morning after a night of alcohol consumption. Medical experts say that after the last drink, alcohol continues to be absorbed in the system for some time before it begins to metabolize. 

David Hanson, PhD says in Alcohol Problems and Solutions   that after alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, it leaves the body in two ways. A total of about ten percent leaves through the breath, perspiration, and urine. The remainder is broken down through the process known as metabolism. Since alcohol is metabolized at a rate of 0.15 of BAC (blood alcohol concentration) every hour, the metabolism times in hours would be:

BAC Level Metabolism Time in Hours
0.01 6.66
0.08 5.33
0.05 3.33
0.02 1.33


Experts say that the rate of alcohol metabolism in the body is generally the same for almost everyone irrespective of weight, gender, height, ethnicity or other factors. There are, however, some factors which may determine the duration of alcohol presence in the body as follows:

  • Gender - Alcohol may tend to stay longer in the system based on gender.  With more fat content and less water in the body, alcohol does stay longer.   Only a small amount of alcohol consumption is needed to arrive at a particular BAC.

  • Time - The time which elapses between the consumption of alcoholic beverages decreases the BAC.

  • Age - The older one is the longer alcohol remains in the system.

  • Weight - A person who weighs less will have a higher BAC than a person who weighs more.

  • Race - Research has found that some races tend to have lowered capacities to detoxify alcohol. Therefore, they tend to experience more prolonged hangovers.

  • Other Factors -

      • Medications

      • Food - amount and type

      • Alcohol brand

      • Quantity consumed

There is a misconception that one may just "sleep it off" and wake without still having the effects of the night before.  The following are averages of how long different BAC readings could take to return to 0 percent (Remember, these rates are affected by the factors above.):

BAC Reading

Approximate Hours Until 0 percent





.08 (legal limit)




.16 (2 times the legal limit)




.24 (3 times the legal limit)



"According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers),  if all 17 million people who admitted to driving drunk had their own state, it would be the fifth largest in the U.S. Drinking and driving is illegal and results in devastating outcomes. Alcohol does remain in the system longer than most people believe.  Before choosing to consume alcoholic beverages, be sure to choose a designated driver," says Hurt By Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall Spivey.


Hurt By Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.




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