What Factors affect my BAC?


Clients often tell me that they cannot believe how high they blew. While there are certain arguments that I can make challenging the accuracy of the breathalyzer, you should be aware of certain factors that will affect your BAC. 


Food - Having food in your stomach helps to slow down the processing of alcohol. A person who has not eaten will hit a peak BAC between ½ hour to two hours of drinking.  On the other hand, a person who has eaten will achieve a peak BAC between 1 and 6 hours.  Now I know most people do not like to eat a lot of food and then starting drinking, however, you should be especially careful if you have not eaten anything and drive shortly after you have been drinking.  If you keep to one drink per hour, you should maintain a safe BAC (this may not be practical for some of you, and if it is not, then I would suggest making sure that you do not drive).  Every person, no matter the size of their liver, will only digest one standard drink per hour.  Standard drink is =:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), keep in mind that many craft beers often have a higher percentage of alcohol sometimes up to 10-12%. 
  • 5 ounces of table wine (12% alcohol).
  • 2-3 ounces of cordial or liqueur (24% alcohol).
  • 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits (40% alcohol).


Women - Sorry ladies but women has less enzyme dehydrogenase that breaks down alcohol in the stomach contributing to higher BACs than men drinking the same amount of alcohol.  Hormone levels also affect the body’s ability to process alcohol.  Typically, women will experience higher BACs right before menstruation.  Women also have a higher percentage of body fat and lower percentage of water than men, which will increase their BAC. 


Body Weight/ Body Type - The less you weigh, the more you will be affected by a given amount of alcohol.  Also, people with lower body fat percentages will have BACs lower than people that weigh the same amount but have a higher body fat percentage. 


Mood - Stress emotions such as depression, anxiety, and anger can cause a change in the enzymes in the stomach and how someone processes alcohol. 


Illness - Often, when you are sick you are dehydrated, which will increase your BAC.  Dehydration can cause your liver to be less efficient at eliminating alcohol. 


Fatigue - Being fatigued before drinking will increase your BAC.  This occurs because when someone is fatigued, the liver is less efficient at processing and/or eliminating alcohol.


Strength of the Drink - Obviously the stronger the drink the higher your BAC.  Also, the more alcohol you consume the more the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract gets irritated, which slows down the absorption rate of the alcohol increasing your BAC. 

Categories: DUI/OVI
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