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How soon can you drive after drinking?

With many holidays approaching, expect more parties and more alcoholic beverages, including festive drinks such as hard cider and spiked eggnog. Many people engage in these traditional parts of celebrating.

What you cannot do following holiday fun is get behind the wheel after downing alcohol. Of course, it is inconvenient when you have places to go, so how long do you have to wait until it is safe to drive?

Rate of metabolism

A beginning reference point is a metabolism rate of one drink per hour, says the New York DMV. Therefore, the more drinks you have, the longer it takes for the alcohol to leave your system. Other factors that can affect the speed of metabolism are as follows:

  • Food intake before alcohol consumption
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Medication
  • Health issues

How to get sober

Despite popular belief, drinking coffee will not make you sober. The caffeine simply increases your alertness. You still retain physical and cognitive impairments until your body completely eliminates the alcohol. Likewise, taking a shower or going for a walk does not help either but only wakes you up. The best thing to do is just wait, even if you feel fine. Otherwise, you can receive drunk driving charges if the police stop you.

It is important to remember that your blood alcohol content does not have to be at 0.08% for you to qualify as driving impaired. If you show signs of impairment even with a lower BAC result, you can still face charges. For those not of drinking age, any amount of alcohol in the system automatically leads to charges. The safest solution is to either catch a ride with a taxi or rideshare service or to spend the night at the host's house until you are sober.

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