Blood Alcohol Level Chart: Are You Too Drunk to Legally Drive?

Use the blood alcohol level chart to get an idea of how many drinks it takes to put your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit.

In every state, it’s illegal—a “per se” DUI—to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. (The BAC limit can be even lower for certain motorists, like commercial vehicle drivers and drivers younger than 21.) But everyone absorbs and metabolizes alcohol at different rates, and there are lots of factors that affect BAC. So there’s no exact formula for determining how many drinks equate to a given BAC level. Plus, you can be convicted of DUI for driving “impaired” (by alcohol or drugs) even if you were under the BAC limit.

The chart below gives BAC estimates that correspond to number of drinks consumed and body weight. (For another way of looking at blood-alcohol approximations, check out our BAC calculator.)

Are You Too Drunk to Legally Drive? A Warning About BAC Estimates

The BAC values in the chart below, shown in separate rows for men and women, are only estimates. You shouldn’t rely on their accuracy when deciding whether to drive or do anything else. The chart doesn’t account for all the factors that can affect BAC levels or the extent of impairment—for example, fatigue, medications taken, or amount of food consumed. If you’ve been drinking, it’s always best to let someone else drive.

Number of Drinks

Body Weight in Pounds

100

120

140

160

180

200

220

240

0

M

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

W

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

.00%

1

M

.06%

.05%

.04%

.04%

.03%

.03%

.03%

.02%

W

.07%

.06%

.05%

.04%

.04%

.03%

.03%

.03%

2

M

.12%

.10%

.09%

.07%

.07%

.06%

.05%

.05%

W

.13%

.11%

.09%

.08%

.07%

.07%

.06%

.06%

3

M

.18

.15%

.13%%

.11%

.10%

.09%

.08%

.07%

W

.20%

.17%

.14%

.12%

.11%

.10%

.09%

.08%

4

M

.24%

.20%

.17%

.15%

.13%%

.12%

.11%

.10%

W

.26%

.22%

.19%

.17%

.15%

.13%%

.12%

.11%

5

M

.30%

.25%

.21%

.19%

.17%

.15%

.14%

.12%

W

.33%

.28%

.24%

.21%

.18%

.17%

.15%

.14%

Understanding the Chart

  • One drink = 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, 12 ounces of 5% beer, or five ounces of 12% wine.
  • Red = .08% or greater, a per se DUI in all 50 states.

Using the BAC Chart

In the chart, one drink equals 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 12 ounces of beer, or five ounces of wine. For example, one ten-ounce glass of wine would count as two drinks.

Also, time is an important consideration in using the chart. The human body metabolizes alcohol over time. Generally, this metabolization reduces a person’s BAC by about .015% per hour. For example, someone who has stopped drinking and has a BAC of .08% at 4:00 p.m. would likely have a BAC of about .05% two hours later, at 6:00 p.m. Due to differences between the sexes and other factors, however, people do metabolize alcohol at different rates.

How BAC Translates to Impairment

Everyone’s body reacts differently to alcohol. However, there’s certainly a correlation between a person’s BAC level and symptoms of intoxication. And these symptoms become more pronounced—and have an increasingly detrimental effect on driving ability—as BAC increases.

DUI Laws by State

Follow the links below to find the DUI laws in your state.

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