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How fast does your BAC drop after drinking?

You think that you waited long enough after drinking to be safe to drive. You eat some food and drink a cup of coffee. You feel all right.

Then, as you drive through Las Vegas, a police officer pulls you over. You're not quite sure what you did to warrant the stop, but you do pull over and talk to the officer. They ask you to do some field sobriety tests and then take a breath test. Still thinking you waited long enough that you won't fail, you take the test.

And you do fail. You get arrested. It's not at all how you wanted your night to go. What happened?

BAC rates

The problem is likely that you did not wait long enough after all. People often misjudge just how intoxicated they are and how the alcohol can impair their driving and judgment.

What you need to know is that the rate that your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) drops is about 0.015 percent every hour. This is true for almost everyone, regardless of their weight, height, age or any other factor. If you drink, that's how fast your body can metabolize the alcohol and get it out of your system.

So, how long did you really wait? An hour? Two? Depending on where your BAC started, it may not have fallen as far as you think.

For example, imagine that you started right at the legal limit of 0.08 percent. In the first hour after you put your drink down, your BAC would only fall to 0.065 percent. Another hour after that, you would hit 0.05 percent. In three hours, you'd reach 0.035 percent, and then you'd get to 0.02 percent after the fourth hour. Alcohol would remain in your system even after five hours, though just at 0.005 percent.

It would take roughly five hours and 20 minutes for you to completely metabolize all of the alcohol you consumed and get back down to 0.00 percent.

And that is just if you start at 0.08, which is right at the legal limit. If you were at 0.10 when you stopped drinking and you waited for an hour, you would still be at 0.085 percent when you got in the car.

Remember, the way you feel can be deceptive. It depends on your alcohol tolerance and how often you drink.

Your defense options

If you do get arrested for a DUI when you thought you did everything possible to stay safe, you could still face some serious ramifications. Make sure you know what legal defense options you have and what rights you have under Nevada's DUI laws.

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