Few people set out to operate a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), but it is an unfortunately common occurrence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it only takes about four drinks to breach the legal limit of .08%.
The more drinks you have during a night out, the higher your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will become. This guide explains how many drinks it takes on average to go over the legal limit and beyond.
Just three alcoholic beverages can increase your BAC to .05%. While still under the legal limit, you will experience impaired judgement, reduced response times, and diminished alertness at this point.
By four drinks, your BAC will increase to .08%. In addition to getting in legal trouble if pulled over and tested by the police, you will also experience poor muscle coordination, loss of short-term memory, problems with reasoning, and an inability to detect road hazards.
Five drinks raises your BAC to .10%. Expect speech slurring, trouble maintaining a position within your lane, and decreased cognition.
Driving with a BAC of .15%, which can occur after consuming seven drinks, is extremely dangerous. You may find it difficult to process information. You may also experience serious stomach upset, including vomiting. Loss of balance and diminished motor control also occur.
Keep in mind that standard drink sizes vary depending on the potency of the alcohol. For example, 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol content is a standard size, while the standard size for a distilled spirit or liquor is only 1.5-ounces. If you are consuming more than the standard size, you will become inebriated faster.