This is a common question, but determining how many drinks before over the limit depends of course on the circumstances. It usually involves two main factors that combine when calculating a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC): 1)  The type of alcoholic drink consumed and 2) the person’s body weight composition. 

For most states, the legal limit for drunk driving is .08%. That is, if you are caught driving with a BAC of over .08%, you will likely be charged with a Driving Under the Influence (DUI). There are similar laws for boating and flying while drunk. In addition, many jurisdictions enforce a “Zero Tolerance” policy for minors. This means that minors can’t have any alcohol at all in their system while driving (even up to 0.01%).

A general rule of thumb is that two drinks within one hour will usually place you near, if not over the legal limit for BAC. Three drinks consumed one after the other will likely place you over the limit, no matter what your weight is. For practical purposes, “one drink” means either a 12 ounce beer, a 4 ounce glass of wine, or 1 ounce of hard liquor. 

What is a “High BAC” Law?

DUI charges can be very damaging to one’s record- they can lead to fines, bad marks on one’s insurance record, and even jail time. Repeat offenses can even lead to felony charges in some instances. Some states impose additional measures for drivers who are found with high blood alcohol concentrations (anywhere from .15% to .20%).

Depending on the state, violating a High BAC law can result in one or more of the following consequences:

  • Higher criminal fines
  • Increased jail time
  • Denial of probation
  • Required ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle
  • Not being allowed to plead guilty in exchange for lesser charges

Also, if the DUI incident caused serious injury or death to another driver, the consequences listed above may be imposed. 

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer or Other DUI Test?

“Implied consent” laws require drivers to submit to a breathalyzer test if they are pulled over under suspicion of DUI. These laws basically state that if you drive, you are effectively consenting to DUI testing if required, which may include a breathalyzer test. In some states, this also includes field sobriety tests.

How Can I Avoid a DUI Arrest?

Simply stated, don’t drive if you have been drinking. Find an alternative means of transportation such as a taxi or a bus. You still might be libel for prosecution for public drunkenness while walking to a cab or bus stop, however. For example, if you’re going wine tasting, arrange for a guided wine tour and stop tasting at least an hour before the trip returns. Using a bicycle while intoxicated could result in a DUI/DWI arrest and become part of your arrest record.

The penalties for refusing to take a breathalyzer test can vary from a suspended license to a simple citation. Thus, if you are trying to determine how many drinks before over the limit, you should understand that at any moment that you are driving, you can be required to take a breathalyzer test, granted that the police have reasonable suspicion to do so. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With the Legal Alcohol Limit in my State?

DUI charges can often lead to very serious consequences. If you need help determining how many drinks before over the limit, an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer can provide you with advice. Also, if you’re facing DUI or other alcohol-related charges, your attorney can provide you with a sound defense during court proceedings.