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I’m planning to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. I know I’ll be drinking, but it’s a long drive home. Is there any way to get sober faster?

For many people, the traditional New Year’s toast comes after a full night of drinking and celebrating. A 160-pound man who has had two beers and a glass of celebratory champagne over a four-hour period will have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .075. This is very close to the legal limit of .08.

We all know that driving under the influence is dangerous. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up sobriety. Neither coffee nor food nor a nap will help. No matter how much you drink, only time can get you sober.

The body metabolizes alcohol by breaking it down into acetic acid. Alcohol is metabolized at a rate of .015 percent of blood alcohol concentration per hour. This is true regardless of your gender, age, or physical health. Only eating will change the rate at which alcohol is metabolized—but a meal won’t sober you up. In fact, eating actually slows down the metabolism of alcohol because the food must also be metabolized. So, how long does it take to get sober?

BAC Time for all the alcohol to leave the body
.06 4 hours
.07 4 hours, 40 minutes
.08 5 hours, 20 minutes
.09 6 hours
.10 6 hours, 40 minutes
.11 7 hours, 20 minutes
.12 8 hours
.13 8 hours, 40 minutes
.14 9 hours, 20 minutes
.15 10 hours
.16 10 hours, 40 minutes
.17 11 hours, 20 minutes
.18 12 hours
.19 12 hours, 40 minutes
.20 13 hours, 20 minutes

The only way to be ready to drive is to keep your BAC low. Here are some tips to help you stay sober:

  • Don’t be pressured to drink.
  • Avoid mixed drinks. Mixed drinks may contain large amounts of alcohol.
  • Eat food with your drink. Food won’t help you become sober, but high protein foods like cheese, beans, or peanuts can slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Move around as you drink. The more you move, the less you will drink.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Sip your drink slowly. This will allow your body to process the alcohol as you drink.
  • Limit yourself to no more than one alcoholic drink per hour.
  • If you take medications, talk to your doctor about whether the drugs will increase the effects of alcohol.

Friends make sure friends celebrate safely. The Madison DUI injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham urge you to share these tips using Facebook or Twitter. You could save a friend’s life.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham