Miami Police Set Up DUI Checkpoint For Holiday Drivers
  • Image Credit: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

How much is too much?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, around 30 people are killed each day in the United States in crashes involving a drunk driver. That's more than one per hour.

In an effort to educate US citizens on the dangers of alcohol, the CDC has put together some guidelines to help people know how much is too much.

Of course, every human being is different, and alcohol affects each person differently. Still, knowing what kind of impact a few drinks can have on your ability to drive might someday save a life... possibly your own.

Scroll through the gallery to find out how various levels of alcohol can affect you, and if you want to know what the legal blood-alcohol level is in your state, click here.

beer on a bar
  • Image Credit: Associated Press

Defining one drink

Before we look at how many drinks is too many drinks, here's some helpful information to keep in mind.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Measurement

The number of drinks listed represents the approximate amount of alcohol that a 160-pound man would need to drink in one hour to reach the listed BAC in each category.

A Standard Drink Size in the United States

A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in

  • 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5-ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers this helpful information:

If you plan on drinking, plan not to drive. 
You should always:

  • Choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver, or
  • Ask ahead of time if you can stay over at your host’s house, or
  • Take a taxi (your community may have a Safe Rides program for a free ride home), and
  • Always wear your safety belt – it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.
blood alcohol level after two beers
  • Image Credit: Center for Disease Control

About 2 Beers = .02% Blood Alcohol Level

After about two drinks, the average adult male weighing 160 pounds would likely have a blood alcohol level of around .02 percent. That, says the CDC, would lead to:

  • Some loss of judgment
  • Relaxation
  • Slight body warmth
  • Altered mood



Predictable effects on driving:

  • Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target)
  • Decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)
blood alcohol level after three beers
  • Image Credit: Center for Disease Control

About 3 Beers = .05% Blood Alcohol Level

After about three drinks, the average adult male weighing 160 pounds would likely have a blood alcohol level of around .05 percent. That, says the CDC, would lead to:

  • Exaggerated behavior
  • May have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes)
  • Impaired judgment
  • Usually good feeling
  • Lowered alertness
  • Release of inhibition



Predictable effects on driving:

Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target)
Decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)

blood alcohol level after four beers
  • Image Credit: Center for Disease Control

About 4 Beers = .08% Blood Alcohol Level

After about four drinks, the average adult male weighing 160 pounds would likely have a blood alcohol level of around .08 percent. That, says the CDC, would lead to:

  • Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing)
  • Harder to detect danger
  • Judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired



Predictable effects on driving:

  • Concentration
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Speed control
  • Reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search)
  • Impaired perception
blood alcohol level after five beers
  • Image Credit: Center for Disease Control

About 5 Beers = .10% Blood Alcohol Level

After about five drinks, the average adult male weighing 160 pounds would likely have a blood alcohol level of around .10 percent. That, says the CDC, would lead to:

  • Clear deterioration of reaction time and control
  • Slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking


Predictable effects on driving:

  • Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
blood alcohol level after seven beers
  • Image Credit: Center for Disease Control

About 7 Beers = .15% Blood Alcohol Level

After about seven drinks, the average adult male weighing 160 pounds would likely have a blood alcohol level of around .15 percent. That, says the CDC, would lead to:

  • Far less muscle control than normal
  • Vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance
  • for alcohol)
  • Major loss of balance


Predictable effects on driving:

  • Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing


  List
I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago

  • From Our Partners

    2016 Cadillac CT6
    MSRP: $53,495 - $87,465
    2017 Chrysler Pacifica
    MSRP: $28,595 - $42,495
    2017 Cadillac XT5
    MSRP: $39,395 - $62,895
    2016 Nissan Maxima
    MSRP: $32,510 - $39,960
    2017 Honda Ridgeline
    MSRP: $29,475 - $42,970