We Help You Protect What’s Most Important

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal driving limit?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Thousands of people are arrested for drunk driving each year in Pennsylvania, and many of them found themselves on the wrong side of the law because they did not realize how impaired they were when they got behind the wheel. To avoid DUI charges, motorists should understand how the body breaks down alcohol and how much drinking is required to exceed the legal driving limit.

Blood alcohol concentration

In most states including Pennsylvania, the threshold for intoxication is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. This means that a driver will be charged with DUI if toxicology tests reveal that the amount of alcohol in their blood by volume is 0.08% or higher. BACs can be influenced by an individual’s weight, how recently they ate and the speed of their metabolism, but there is no such thing as alcohol tolerance. This means that heavy drinkers become intoxicated just as quickly as people who rarely consume alcohol.

Standard drinks

A standard drink in the United States contains 14 grams of alcohol. A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor are all standard drinks. A person weighing 100 pounds will be legally intoxicated after consuming three drinks in an hour, and even a 220-pound person will fail a breath test after six drinks.

Lowering the legal limit

A driver can have impaired judgment and find balancing difficult with a BAC far lower than the 0.08% legal limit. This is why most developed countries have set the drunk driving limit at 0.05%. Utah lowered its BAC limit to 0.05% in 2018, but lawmakers in other states have been reluctant to follow suit. Accidents would be prevented and lives would be saved if they did, which is why the National Transportation Safety Administration supports lowering the BAC threshold to 0.05% across the country.