You did everything you were supposed to do – drank responsibly, used a rideshare service to get home. The morning after a night out, however, you find yourself getting stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, charged with DUI and wondering how this could have happened.
Upon consumption, alcohol enters the digestive system. From there, a large portion enters the small intestine before being absorbed into the bloodstream. A smaller portion moves directly to the blood vessels and is carried to the brain. As the alcohol makes its way to the liver, it is metabolized and eliminated through your breath, sweat and the oxidation process.
According to the AAA DUI Justice Link, the body eliminates alcohol at an average rate of about 0.015% to 0.017% per hour. Consequently, it may take the body between 75 and 90 minutes to process the alcohol contained in a single standard-sized drink.
It takes time for the body to absorb the alcohol and cause your BAC level to rise. If you drink more alcohol per hour than your body is able to process, it may cause your BAC level to rise even higher. Therefore, your BAC may not peak until well after you have stopped drinking.
For instance, you went out at 8 pm and had about two drinks an hour until 12:30 am. Your BAC level may not peak until 2 am, and at 6:30 am when you leave for work, you may still have a BAC of at least .08%. Your body may continue processing the alcohol in order to eliminate it from your system, but by 8:30 am, you may still be impaired and could be subject to an arrest.