Home > Alcohol, Drinking and Driving > How Long Alcohol Stays in Your System- Why NOT to Drive

How Long Alcohol Stays in Your System- Why NOT to Drive

Determining how long alcohol will stay in your system depends on several factors: the health of your liver and other organs, recent food intake, person’s height and weight, the individual’s metabolism rate and the type of alcoholic beverage being consumed. With all of these factors, it’s difficult to determine how it will affect the system. Generally speaking:

drinking alcohol

  • When drinking an alcoholic beverage, alcohol enters the system right away into the epithelial layer of the skin. Once these cells are affected, they affect your nervous system, which is what causes blurred vision and slurred speech.

  • The alcohol is then ingested into your stomach. Some of this can be expelled through sweat, saliva or urine, while most then enters your organs.

  • About 20 minutes after the alcohol is consumed, 90% will enter the intestine  then the pancreas and liver. At this point, alcohol is being absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.

Even after your drinking has stopped, the amount of alcohol in your system is continuing to rise. This makes it impossible to tell how long alcohol will remain in your system based on how much you drank. Instead, this depends on how well your metabolism will break the substance down.

Typically, it takes your body around 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol, or half a pint of beer, for those with a healthy liver and healthy metabolism rate. Therefore, 2 pints will take your body 4 hours to process the alcohol (depending how much food is in your system). So a night out with friends where the drinks are flowing makes this process even longer. A night of 10 pints, or 5 shots (2 “doubles”), or 3-4 glasses of wine, means you can’t drive for about 19-20 hours.

Be aware that because this process can take several hours, a good night’s sleep will not sober you up. It’s possible to slow the level that alcohol enters your system, but not to increase the rate in which it leaves the body. If you’re going to drink- even just 1- it’s time to plan for a ride home.

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  1. April 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Very interesting, I never knew alcohol stayed in your system for so long!

  2. April 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Alcohol stays in your system way longer than people normally think. Thanks for sharing this great information!

  3. April 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Alcohol stays in your system much longer than most think, we need to get this information out there to those who drink, even if just occasionally, so they are aware of just how long it takes your body to break it down.

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