How Much is Too Much?

Let me start with a disclaimer:  I do not encourage anyone to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.  Everyone is different.  Your body, in effect, is its own unique test tube which processes alcohol in ways that are special to you.  Each person has their own set of variables which affect how they metabolize alcohol.  Those variables include: weight, sex, age, ethnicity, health, diet and how often you partake.  That’s it?  No, there are more factors to consider, but those are well beyond the basics discussed here.

In most cases, those who are detained under suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol are offered a breath test.  In Louisiana, that would be an invitation (though it sounded like a threat) to become acquainted with theIntoxilyzer 5000, a machine which attempts to convert your breath alcohol to a level of what your blood alcoholshould be.  While it is a glorified guestimate, that is what our court’s allow, so that is what you need to be concerned about.

A person’s breath alcohol concentration is the percentage of alcohol in the blood stream and is determined by a formula of time and volume of consumption. How fast you consume determines how effective your body is in processing or metabolizing the alcohol. Just like everything you ingest, the alcohol works its way into your bloodstream and heads to the liver to be broken down by enzymes and rendered harmless (assuming that you are a casual consumer, of course).

Our legal limit for those over 21 is a BAC of .08% (Hey, we are generous in the land of plenty.  Consider that it is illegal to have any alcohol in your system for drivers in Russia, Belarus, Romania, Hungary and Brazil.  Say what?!?  What does that tell you?).

So, just how much can you drink before you reach that limit? A generally accepted rule of thumb is that the average healthy human test tube over 21 years of age can handle about one average drink – .5 oz. – per hour. I would suggest that to be safe, this would be on a full stomach. Note that .5 oz. is greater than what is contained in an average beer or glass of wine.  Anything more than that returns to the bloodstream and redirects it to your brain where it causes nothing but problems.

The bottom line is that alcohol affects your reflexes and judgment no matter the amount you consume, making you a danger behind the wheel.  Be neither a danger nor a statistic.  When in doubt, be smart and get a designated driver after consuming

Below are links to tools which you may find useful in determining how alcohol affects you:

Coolmath4kids – Blood Alcohol Level Calculator

Calculate your Blood Alcohol Concentration with Last Call

National Designated Drivers Association BAC Calculator

Univ. of Oklahoma Police BAC Calculator

Drink Wheel