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The myth of “safe” drinking: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Many people have heard the rule of thumb that having one drink per hour is “safe” for those who want to be able to drive home from wherever they’ve been enjoying alcohol. But is this really true? From countless cases involving alcohol-related accidents, reality is far more complex – and potentially dangerous.

From life-altering injuries to fatal crashes, the consequences of misjudging your level of impairment can be severe and far-reaching. Exploring these common misconceptions can help you avoid legal troubles.

Individual differences matter

Your body’s response to alcohol depends on different factors, including:

  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Metabolism
  • Food consumption
  • Hydration level

For example, a 100-pound woman will be affected much differently by one drink than a 220-pound man. In fact, for a 140-pound woman, just three standard drinks in an hour can put her over the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Not all drinks are created equal

When people talk about “one drink,” they often refer to:

  • 12 oz of regular beer (5% alcohol)
  • 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol)
  • 5 oz of distilled spirits (40% alcohol)

However, many popular drinks contain much more alcohol. A craft beer or a strong mixed drink could easily be equivalent to 1.5 or even 2 standard drinks. That “one drink per hour” rule falls apart pretty quickly when you’re sipping on a high-alcohol beverage.

Time doesn’t tell the whole story

While it’s true that your body processes alcohol over time, the rate isn’t as simple as “one drink per hour.” Factors like liver function, medications and overall health can affect how quickly you metabolize alcohol. Plus, if you’re drinking continuously throughout the evening, alcohol can accumulate in your system faster than you can process it.

Impairment begins before you reach the legal limit

Even if you’re below the 0.08% BAC legal limit, your driving ability can be significantly impaired. Reaction times, judgment and coordination start to decline at much lower levels – as low as 0.02% BAC for some people.

Remember, even if you feel “fine,” your judgment may be impaired. Again, don’t let misconceptions about “safe” drinking levels put you at risk.

With that said, if you miscalculated your blood alcohol concentration and you’re already in legal trouble, you can explore your defense options immediately. A knowledgeable legal group can look into your legal situation and offer guidance so that you can pursue a favorable outcome to your circumstances, if possible.