Minimizing the Effect of Alcohol Consumption

To keep your BAC below the legal limit and keep yourself and others safe, keep these tips in mind:

  • Consume food while you drink.  Eating, especially consuming food high in protein, can help slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream.  A study published in the Journal of Forensic Science found that subjects who drank alcohol after a meal that included fat, protein, and carbohydrates absorbed the alcohol about three times more slowly than when they consumed alcohol on an empty stomach.1
  • Sip your drink. By avoiding “chugging” drinks and instead slowly savoring your beverage you will be able to enjoy a single drink for a longer period of time and will reduce the total amount of alcohol you consume.
  • Alternate non-alcoholic drinks in with alcoholic beverages. Drinking water or other non-alcoholic beverages in between alcoholic beverages will help keep your blood alcohol concentration down by spacing out your alcoholic drinks.
  • Stick to familiar drinks. Trying new drinks, especially drinks with sweet juices to mask the flavor of alcohol, could mean you consume much more alcohol than you intended. Keeping track of how much alcohol you’ve consumed is important in determining your fitness to operate a vehicle.

When drinking, be wary of larger than normal serving sizes (e.g., a 16 oz pint of beer instead of a 12 oz bottle of beer). Keep these standards in mind:

  • Beer: A typical serving of beer is 12 fluid ounces and contains between 4 and 7 percent alcohol by volume. Most beers are around 5 percent alcohol by volume
  • Wine: The average serving of wine is 5-6 fluid ounces and contains between 11 and 13 percent alcohol by volume. The typical glass is 12 percent alcohol by volume.
  • Spirits: The typical serving of distilled spirits is 1.5 fluid ounces. Each ounce is generally 70 percent alcohol by volume. The volume of alcohol will vary in each drink depending on additional water, soda, or etc.

Remember, generally your BAC will continue rising even after you consume your last drink. Your liver can only metabolize a specific amount of alcohol per hour, no matter how much you drink. In general, after the consumption of one standard drink, your blood alcohol concentration peaks within 30 to 45 minutes.2


1 Jones, A.W., & Jönsson, K.A. Food-induced lowering of blood-ethanol profiles and increased rate of elimination immediately after a meal. Journal of Forensic Sciences 39(4):1084-1093, 1994

2 Alcohol Alert From NIAAA