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Updated on July 11, 2022

How Many Drinks Does it Take to Reach 0.08% BAC?

How Many Drinks is .08?

Do you ever wonder how much alcohol it takes to get drunk? If so, you’re not alone. The United States has set a legal consumption limit of alcohol at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08.1 

United States legislators put this measure in place to discourage alcohol-impaired driving and reduce accident rates. They tried to get it lowered from .08 to .05 in 2014, but it failed. 

Many people have a vague understanding of this concept. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this intoxication threshold.

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What is BAC?

BAC represents the measured amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream.2 A BAC of 0.08 means that you have 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 ml of blood.

All 50 states have a legal BAC limit of 0.08 when driving under the influence of alcohol. However, certain states have stricter limits. Utah has a 0.05 BAC limit, for instance. These restrictions apply to citizens over the legal drinking age of 21.

Standard Drinks and BAC

A standard drink in the United States typically contains 14 grams of pure alcohol.3 The amount of alcoholic content in wine, beer, and hard liquor varies. 4

Below, you’ll find the average amount of alcohol content in various standard drinks:

  • Beer – A 12 oz. bottle of beer has an alcoholic content of about 5.1%. 
  • White Wine - A 5 oz. glass of white wine contains about 12.5% alcohol.
  • Distilled Spirits – Spirits like vodka have the highest concentration of alcohol. Vodka is about 40% alcohol, with the standard shot being 1.5 oz.

It’s also worth noting that most alcoholic beverages don’t solely contain alcoholic content. Some are mixed with water and other external ingredients.

How many drinks is .08 for a woman?

A woman can reach the 0.08 BAC level after having four drinks in 2 hours.5 According to research, women reach higher BAC levels with fewer traces of alcohol compared to men.6

How many drinks is .08 for a man?

Men typically reach the 0.08 BAC level after five drinks on a single occasion.

Is .08 a lot of alcohol?

Theoretically speaking, a .08 BAC level doesn’t signal an alarming amount of alcohol intake. Going over that limit is risky. 

Your blood absorbs the alcohol you consume. Upon reaching your brain, alcohol affects various cognitive functions. You may have difficulties performing physical tasks or driving safely with excessive alcohol consumption.7

What is my BAC after two beers?

Different beers have different ABV levels. A person’s weight, height, and BMI can also affect their BAC. You can determine your BAC by following these four primary techniques:

Self-Assessment

When you cross over the 0.08 threshold, you may experience: 

  • Mood swings
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of focus

If you start feeling any of these symptoms, stop drinking and let your body metabolize the alcohol.

One-Drink-Per-Hour

The “one-drink-per-hour” rule is fairly easy to follow. A little bit of willpower is all it takes to master this. 

Keep in mind that some beverages (like vodka) have higher concentrations of alcohol, so their impact can stay longer than an hour.

BAC Charts and Calculators

Several BAC charts and calculators are available online for free use. These tools can be used to calculate your BAC levels based on gender, height, and the number of drinks consumed. 

You can also use this formula to calculate your BAC: [Grams of alcohol consumed / (Body weight in grams x r)] x 100. “R” represents the gender constant, which is 0.55 for women and 0.68 for men.

Using a Breathalyzer

A breathalyzer is the most reliable way to measure your BAC level.8 Breathalyzers are generally accurate in their ratings, ensuring that users know the exact amount of alcohol they’ve consumed.

Common Factors that Affect BAC

Various factors can affect your body’s BAC levels and determine your behavior when you’re under the influence of alcohol.9 These factors may vary by person. 

Some of the common factors that influence BAC include:

  • Alcohol consumption: The amount of alcohol present in the drinks you consume, the time frame that you consume your beverages, and the amount of lapse time since you’ve had your last drink.
  • Personal factors: Your body’s weight, fat percentage, digestion, metabolic rate, hydration level, and your body’s overall reaction to alcohol.
  • Other substances: How your body reacts to alcohol when you’re on medication or you have a habit of substance abuse.
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Effects of Different BAC Levels

Let’s take a look at how different BAC levels can affect your body:

0.02 BAC

Most feel relaxed at the 0.02 BAC level.13 However, some might lose their sense of judgment. You’re also bound to get distracted more easily, and it might become difficult to keep track of the movements of other people, animals, or objects.

0.05 BAC

At this level, you may lose some focus and alertness, according to one study.11 This study demonstrates how visual impairment can result in a poor response during emergencies.12 It may be harder for you to steer clear of moving objects. Hence, driving would be a huge risk. 

There may also be a loss of muscle control at this level.

0.08 BAC

At 0.08 BAC, you may experience: 

  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Loss of balance
  • Slurred speech
  • Slower reaction times 
  • Inability to assess any surrounding danger
  • Loss of memory and poor reasoning
  • Impaired judgment

At this level, you have a much higher risk of getting in an accident while driving due to impaired judgment.10

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How long does it take for alcohol to leave your body?

The rate that your body absorbs alcohol depends on multiple factors, including: 

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Stomach content at the time of drinking alcohol
  • The speed at which you drank the alcohol
  • The amount of alcohol consumed 
  • Liver’s health

These factors may affect your body’s metabolism and the time it takes for you to sober up. As a general rule of thumb, most people feel the effects of alcohol on their bodies for up to 12 hours. They may also remain in a state of a hangover for several hours until their BAC levels subside.

If you suspect that you have fallen prey to alcohol intoxication, you should seek medical help immediately. 

Summary

When calculating the amount of alcohol in a drink, you must consider the alcohol content of the beverage and the number of external liquids in the drink.

Suppose you’d like to know how many standard drinks there are in other beverages. In that case, you can search online for alcohol content calculators or manually compare the amount of alcohol in different drinks.

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13 sources cited
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Dilley JE, Nicholson ER, Fischer SM, Zimmer R, Froehlich JC. “Alcohol Drinking and Blood Alcohol Concentration Revisited.” Alcohol Clin Exp, 13 Dec. 2017
  2. Zamengo L, Frison G, Tedeschi G, Frasson S, Zancanaro F, Sciarrone R. “Variability of blood alcohol content (BAC) determinations: the role of measurement uncertainty, significant figures, and decision rules for compliance assessment in the frame of a multiple BAC threshold law.” Drug Test Anal, 30 Jan. 2014
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “What Is A Standard Drink?” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2022
  4. Mitchell MC Jr, Teigen EL, Ramchandani VA. “Absorption and peak blood alcohol concentration after drinking beer, wine, or spirits.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 21 Mar 2014
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Apr. 2022
  6. Nogueira LC, Couri S, Trugo NF, Lollo PC. “The effect of different alcoholic beverages on blood alcohol levels, plasma insulin and plasma glucose in humans.” Food Chem, 28 Feb. 2014 
  7. Yadav AK, Velaga NR. “Laboratory analysis of driving behavior and self-perceived physiological impairment at 0.03%, 0.05% and 0.08% blood alcohol concentrations.” Drug Alcohol Depend, 17 Oct. 2019
  8. Odero W, Zwi AB. “An evaluation of sensitivity and specificity of blood alcohol concentrations obtained by a breathalyser survey in a casualty department in Kenya.” Accid Anal Prev, 31 Jul. 1999
  9. Pikaar NA, Wedel M, Hermus RJ. “Influence of several factors on blood alcohol concentrations after drinking alcohol.” Alcohol Alcohol, 1988
  10. Liu YC, Ho CH. “Effects of different blood alcohol concentrations and post-alcohol impairment on driving behavior and task performance.” Traffic Inj Prev, 11 Aug. 2010
  11. Fell JC, Voas RB. “The effectiveness of a 0.05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving in the United States.” Addiction, 25 Oct. 2013 
  12. Droste N, Miller P, Kaestle CE, Curtis A, Hyder S, Coomber K, Pennay A, Chikritzhs T, Lam T, Gilmore W. “Comparing levels of blood alcohol concentration and indicators of impairment in nightlife patrons.” Drug Alcohol, 7 Dec. 2017
  13. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The ABCs of BAC: A guide to understanding blood alcohol concentration.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration., Jul. 2016

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