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Debunking the “Drink an Hour” Rule


If you think about it, if you are “average,” you are burning off less than a drink an hour. This is a problem. I’ve had a lot of clients recently who have said that they were following the drink an hour rule. Well that’s a rule that should not be followed, you just can’t measure how much alcohol a drink is going to put in your system. It depends on the content of the alcohol or the size of the alcohol and you also have to look at your absorption rate and elimination or burn-off rate.

If you are drinking a drink an hour, you may not be burning off very fast and it may take a long time for you to absorb because of food or other elements in your system. And you could think, “Oh, I’m a 0.05 based on this conversion” and you actually might be a 0.16. It’s just so hard to successfully calculate the conversion rate. Obviously the best way to be safe and avoid getting a DUI is to not drink and drive.

Interviewer: Let’s go back to the rule that people mistakenly follow, a drink an hour. You are saying some of the factors that can totally clock that up is when are you drinking a “standard drink.”

Aaron: That’s right.

Why Are the Alcohol Conversion Rates So Variable?

Interviewer: So, factors to consider are: Have you eaten? When have you eaten? How much have you eaten? What’s your particular burn-off rate?

These are things that no one is going to know unless they went to a lab. As you drink throughout a night I’m sure you’re memory gets foggy and you’re having a good time. You can’t really accurately with a stopwatch tell when you had your last drink.

Aaron: That’s correct and one of the things which you brought up there which a lot of people don’t realize is, you could go to a lab, get a forensic analyst or someone who runs a lab to do testing on you. However, because every situation you put yourself in is different, it is hard to determine what your exact burn-off rate is. And that can have to do with body temperature, which for women can have to do with their cycles. So, for many people, the chemical makeup is be different.

You may have additional vitamins or minerals in your system, which may slow down or speed this up. Also, the amount of food that you had that day will always be different than the amount of food you had on the night in question when you got the DUI. The timing will be different and the drinking pattern will be different.

There’s just no way to accurately recreate what happened. You can kind of get a baseline, but it can only give you a good idea. It’s an awful lot of money to go pay to get a baseline to be able to “guesstimate” what your burn-off rate’s going to be and how much you can drink when you go out. Again, the best way is to spread it out over a period of time.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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