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BAC After One Beer
(Will 1 Drink Fail a Breathalyzer?)

For most people, drinking one beer raises your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, by about .02%. BAC generally increases by .02% per drink you consume per hour.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is BAC?

Blood alcohol concentration is a measurement of alcohol intoxication expressed as a mass of alcohol per volume or mass of blood. For example, a BAC of 0.10 by volume (0.10% or 1/10 of 1%) means that there is 0.10 g of alcohol for every 100 mL of blood, which is the same as 21.7 mmol/L.

Effects by Alcohol Level

As BAC increases over time, the short-term effects of alcohol become increasingly apparent:

  • Low impairment (BAC 0.01–0.05%) - People experience mild relaxation, reduced social inhibition, and impaired judgment, and coordination.
  • Moderate impairment (BAC 0.06–0.20%) - Effects include emotional swings, impaired vision, hearing, speech, and motor skills.
  • Severe impairment (BAC greater than 0.2%) - People may experience urinary incontinence, vomiting, and symptoms of alcohol intoxication. At BAC 0.3%, people may experience total loss of consciousness. A BAC of 0.4% or higher is potentially fatal and can result in respiratory failure or coma.

Can I Drive After Drinking 1 Beer?

The short answer is no. While 1 to 2 drinks should keep you below the legal limit, any amount of alcohol can impact your ability to drive safely and increase your risk of getting into an accident.

Related Article: What Is An Implied Consent Law?

Will 1 Drink Fail a Breathalyzer?

Most breathalyzers can detect alcohol for up to 12 hours after a person consumes 1 alcoholic beverage. The average urine test can also detect alcohol 12-48 hours after the last consumption. If your BAC is 0.08, it will take around 5 hours to metabolize the alcohol completely before you can become completely “sober.”

Related Article: How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?

How to Calculate Your BAC Level

You can roughly calculate your BAC with a mathematical equation called the Widmark Formula, which determines a person's BAC based on their weight, gender, and amount of alcohol consumed in a given period.

Factors in the Widmark Formula are defined as follows:

  • R = Gender – a constant in this equation (.55 for females and .68 for males)
  • Grams of Alcohol Consumed (Number of drinks x 14)

To calculate this amount, you need to make the assumption that you are drinking “standard” sized drinks
The standard-sized drinks are as follows:

  • An 80-proof version of liquor (i.e. gin or whiskey) – 1.5 ounces
  • Beer (5.0% alcohol) – 12 ounces
  • Wine (12.0 alcohol) – 5 ounces

In the United States, the standard-sized drink contains 14 grams of alcohol

  • Body weight in grams
  • Body weight in pounds x 454 = body weight in grams

What Neutralizes Alcohol on the Breath?

Brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, drinking water, eating food, chewing gum, and waiting it out are all ways you can reduce the smell of alcohol on your breath.

How Can I Lower my BAC Faster?

Contrary to popular belief, nothing can lower your BAC except the passage of time. Coffee, cold showers, and downing water will not help you sober up any faster.

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