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How Much Alcohol Does It Take to Be at Risk of a DWI?

Published: Feb 08, 2019 in Criminal Defense, DWI

There are pre-determined standards for the amount of alcohol in your body that can lead to DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges. If you are over 21 and operating a personal vehicle, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08 percent. When you are under 21 years of age, any detectable amount of alcohol in your body can lead to a DUI charge. If you have your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are in a commercial vehicle at the time of the stop, the legal limit is 0.04 percent.

You are likely well aware of the legal BAC limit. But what you may be less aware of is how much alcohol you can consume before you hit that limit. How many drinks can you consume before your BAC is above 0.04 or 0.08 percent? This is a tough issue to tackle, but it might matter to your case. If a prosecutor claims you had a BAC you do not think is possible, you need to call a Houston DWI lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away.

Call (713) 222-6767, or reach out online to schedule a free consultation.

How Much Alcohol Puts You Over the Legal Limit?

The amount of alcohol that places your BAC at or over the legal limit depends on a multitude of factors. However, you can look to science-backed generalizations for a better understanding of this information.

To begin, you need to know what constitutes “a drink.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a drink as:

  • 12 ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol)
  • Five ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol)
  • Eight ounces of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor or spirits (40 percent alcohol)

The percentages of alcohol will vary based on your actual drink. However, these are the standard measures used when looking at how BAC correlates to the number of drinks consumed.

According to the CDC, if you are an approximately 160-pound man your blood alcohol level will be:

  • 0.02 percent after two drinks (in an hour)
  • 0.05 percent after three drinks (in an hour)
  • 0.08 percent after four drinks. (in an hour)
  • 0.10 percent after five drinks (in an hour)
  • 0.15 percent after seven drinks (in an hour)

Think about it this way: if you (as a 160-pound man), go to a bar with friends and drink four beers in an hour, then you are likely at or over the legal limit. If you get in your car and drive home, you could be stopped and arrested for a DWI.

Many Factors Affect BAC

It is important you realize the estimates above are based on men weighing about 160 pounds. Your sex and size will affect your BAC. Men who weigh more or less may have slightly different experiences. This is why larger men may seem to be able to drink more without becoming as intoxicated.

Women who weigh less are also likely to have a different experience. Their BAC may rise faster than the above estimates. If you are a woman who weighs about 130 pounds, you may hit the legal limit in two or three drinks.

Keep in mind, your weight is a complicated factor. Your amount of body fat versus muscle mass can make a difference. According to “The ABCs of BAC” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol does not enter into fat cells as easily as other cells. Individuals with higher amounts of fat on their bodies will have more alcohol remain in their blood, which is particularly a factor for women who may naturally have a greater amount of body fat than men. Also, the amount of water in your body is important. The more water in the body, the more the alcohol is diluted.

You might drink alcohol faster than one drink per hour, which increases your BAC at a quicker rate. Consider when you go out to dinner. You may have two glasses of wine during your appetizer, meal, and dessert, and all of that may take less than an hour and a half. When you head to the car to go home, your BAC would likely be above 0.02 percent, especially if you are a woman or weigh less than 160 pounds.

Call a DWI Lawyer for Help

If you were arrested for a DWI, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away. Attorney Barnett is a veteran DWI defense lawyer. He will scrutinize the evidence available in your case and determine the strongest possible defense. If the BAC results after your stop show a BAC that is higher than what you believe it should have been, then he will look for where mistakes may have been made. He has certificates in operating breath test machines and gas chromatography, and he has fought against chemical testing errors and unreliable test results many times before.

To schedule a free consultation with a Houston DWI lawyer, contact us today at (713) 222-6767.