How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System

Blood Alcohol ContentIf someone is arrested on any type of charge involving alcohol, be it a DWI or drunk and disorderly, he or she will not be released until the alcohol is out of their system. They need to sober up first. Many people have been frustrated with this rule. They can’t understand if there’s a family member at the jail to take them home, why not release them. There’s actually another reason. Whenever someone is arrested, they will have to sign a paper which states charges and the court date. The magistrate cannot have them sign that until they’re sober. Otherwise, they could later argue to the judge that they were drunk when they signed it and therefore couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be held accountable.

So, with that in mind, it might be handy to know how long it takes to dry out. But before getting in to the specifics of how long, it’s a good idea to understand some background information, namely, Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC.

Blood Alcohol Content ( BAC )

Blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is a measurement of how much alcohol is in the blood. It determines the effects of alcohol on a person. It’s measured as a weight, in grams, per 100 milliliters of blood. Blood, breath, or urine tests can determine the the BAC is the bloodstream. It’s usually shown as a decimal, such as 0.08 or 0.15. The legal limit for driving in Virginia is .08.

Effects of BAC on Behavior

It’s common knowledge that the risk of a driving accident increase when a person drinks alcohol. The more alcohol is consumed, the greater the risk. Statistically, for single-vehicle crashes, when driving with a BAC between .08 and .10, the risk is at least 11 times greater. The following table shows the behavioral effects of blood alcohol content.

BACEffects
0.02-0.03No coordination loss. Mildly relaxed.
0.04-0.06More relaxed and the inhibitions are lower. Reasoning may have some impairment. Behavior may be more exaggerated (for positive emotions, things are better; for negative emotions, things are worse).
0.07-0.09Speech, vision, reaction time and hearing begin to be impaired. Note that .08 is the legal limit for driving.
0.10-0.125More pronounced impairment reaction times and motor coordination. Signs of visibly drunk become noticeable, such as speech being slurred, etc.
0.13-0.15Blurry vision and unbalanced motor skills. The euphoria is diminished. Judgment and perception are very impaired.
0.16-0.19This can be described as a sloppy drunk. Nausea may occur.
0.20At this point, help is needed to stand or walk. Pain is not felt if injured. Blackouts occur at this level; there will likely be no memory of the events.
0.25All mental and physical abilities are drastically impaired. Death sometimes occurs by asphyxiation from choking on vomit or serious injuries occur.
0.30Passing out and difficult to wake.
0.40Onset of coma, and possible death due to respiratory arrest.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System

Once alcohol is consumed and absorbed into the bloodstream, approximately 10% is expired through the breath, sweat and urine, while the rest of it is broken down through metabolism. Alcohol is metabolized at a rate of .016 of BAC every hour. This is true for everyone, regardless of height, weight, sex, race, etc. So, for someone with a BAC of .16, it will take 10 hours to dry out (.16 divided by .016). Other pertinent examples are:

BACHow long it takes to “dry out”
0.085 hours
0.106 hours
0.2012 hours
0.2515 hours
0.3018.75 hours

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. We hope this it was informative. If you, or someone you know, is in need of a bondsman in Richmond, Henrico, Chesnterfield, Hanover, Charlottesville, or anywhere else in Virginia, don’t hesitate to call us at 804-833-2785.