How Fast Does BAC Drop?

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How fast does blood alcohol concentration level drop? Get a complete guide on all this and more from Ozarks DWI Law Clinic. Call us today for more information!

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Drinking and Driving in Missouri

You may have been at a party where you had a few drinks. You are not drunk but are nervous about getting caught for drunk driving charges. So you drink a few glasses of water and wait for half an hour before driving home.

Is this a good strategy? Will your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) drop sufficiently? What factors affect this? In truth, your BAC takes time to drop off. Most people will have a uniform decline in BAC. 

Driving while intoxicated laws (DWI laws) are strictly enforced in Missouri. Convictions can have severe consequences for individuals. Have you been charged for driving after consuming liquor beyond the prescribed legal alcohol limit? In such situations, it may be a good idea to consult attorneys from Ozarks DWI Law Clinic. Lawyers from our firm have vast experience in handling these kinds of cases in Missouri.

This article looks at BAC levels, how fast they can drop, and other interesting facts about BAC.

What Do You Mean by Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level?

Simply put, BAC is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. It is measured in grams per 100 milliliters of blood. The prescribed legal limit for drivers over 21 is 0.08%. This means that there is a presence of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. This limit is 0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.02% for drivers under 21.

Alcohol Effects by BAC Levels


The feeling of being drunk or intoxicated by alcohol roughly coincides with BAC levels. Generally, the more intoxicated you feel, the higher your BAC is. The effects of alcohol are predictable in individuals who do not abuse it. With heavy drinkers, the effects might not show up until the BAC levels are significantly higher. Generally speaking, the effects of alcohol relative to BAC levels are as follows:

  • 0.01% to 0.10%- You may experience mild euphoria and problems with coordination and attention, such as reduced reaction time, decreased attention, and impaired judgment.
  • 0.10% and 0.20%- Slurred speech, shaky judgment, and difficulty in walking.
  • 0.20% and 0.30%- Disorientation, a lack of coordination, nausea, and vomiting.
  • BAC above 0.30%- Stupor, unconsciousness, and coma-related death.

Alcohol Absorption

Alcohol does not break down like food after it has been consumed. A small portion is first absorbed by the tongue and mucosal lining of the mouth. Once in the stomach, alcohol is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream by the tissue lining of the small intestine and stomach.

Your blood alcohol content can change depending on a number of variables, such as:

  • The amount of alcohol consumed.
  • The rate at which you consume alcohol.
  • If you consumed a lot of food before drinking.
  • Your body weight, age, and gender.


Alcohol Metabolism


Alcohol is a toxin that has to be removed from the body or neutralized. A portion of alcohol is eliminated in the form of urine, sweat, and breath. The liver is the main organ in charge of the body’s alcohol detoxification process. The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, produced by liver cells, is critical in the body’s process of metabolizing alcohol.

You experience the feeling of being intoxicated when you drink faster than the rate at which your liver can process (metabolize) the alcohol consumed.

How Much Does Your BAC Drop Per Hour?

No matter how your blood alcohol content (BAC) gets to a given level, your body needs time to break down the alcohol and remove it from your system.

The human body breaks down alcohol at the rate of around 0.015-0.016 grams per 100 milliliters per hour. This means that the body breaks down alcohol at approximately 0.015%-0.016% per hour.

How Much Can Your BAC Drop in 2 Hours?

If you apply the standard metabolic rate of 0.016% per hour, the maximum drop in BAC levels would be 0.032% in two hours.

How Long Does it Take to Get 0.08% BAC Back to 0%?

Assume your BAC drops at about 0.015% every hour. If you start at 0.08%, your blood alcohol content will drop to 0.065% in the first hour after you stop drinking. After another hour, you would reach 0.05%. You would get to 0.035% after three hours; after the fourth hour, you would reach 0.02%. Five hours later, there would still be negligible alcohol in your bloodstream (0.005%).

To return to 0%, you would need to fully metabolize the rest of the alcohol you ingested. Applying the standard metabolic rate, this would take another twenty minutes. Thus, bringing the BAC level from 0.08% to 0% would take about five hours and twenty minutes. The time required to metabolize alcohol extends considerably if you exceed the legal limit. 

Can I Accelerate the Rate at Which My BAC Drops?

It doesn’t matter if you drink moonshine or red wine or are 6’4″ or 4’6″ in height. The bottom line is that your alcohol metabolism operates at a specific rate, and it is not possible to increase it.

It may not be a good idea to buy into any of the “tips” that claim to bring your blood alcohol content down. Activities like taking a cold shower and drinking coffee do not make any difference to your BAC levels. They make you feel more alert but do not make you sober. As such, driving may not be a good idea if you feel there is any chance of being under the influence.


How Can Ozarks DWI Law Clinic Help?

You may require the services of an accomplished DWI lawyer if you are charged with DWI in Missouri. Whether you are facing a first offense or this is your 2nd DWI, our attorneys from Ozarks DWI Law Clinic can help you!

Our experienced and savvy team can:

  • Give counsel and legal advice.
  • Evaluate the facts of the case.
  • Create a defense strategy and, if necessary, negotiate plea agreements.
  • Defend clients in court, refute witnesses and evidence, and traverse DWI legislation’s intricate web.
  • Support administrative actions involving the suspension of a driver’s license.

You don’t have to navigate the complexities of the law and legal system alone. We are here to assist you and provide a free legal consultation for DWI and BAC cases. Contact us to schedule your consultation session today!