Last updated: August 2022

What Is the Alcohol Level for Drunk Driving?

What number do you think of when you think of drinking in the U.S.? Is it 21?

You might want to consider another one: .08. The legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) is .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for all 50 states. .08% is the BAC level at which assured impairment of muscle coordination and driving skills occurs. (For commercial drivers, the BAC level is .04% and for drivers under 21, there’s a zero-tolerance limit.)

From there, the numbers can get a little fuzzy. How many alcoholic beverages are too many to drive home? How long after drinking is it considered safe to drive? What is the financial penalty for a DUI/DWI? What's my alcohol limit?

Alcohol and Driving: Numbers You Should Know

1: Drink per hour is, in general, what the liver can process in one hour. That’s one 12 oz. beer, five oz. glass of wine, or 1.5 oz. shot of hard liquor. A caveat: some establishments serve larger drinks now, so don’t assume that cocktail you ordered at the bar counts for just one drink.

3: Drinks consumed in quick succession (one right after the other) almost assures your BAC will be over the legal limit regardless of age, weight, etc.

11: Primary factors that might affect a person’s BAC. These include gender, overall health, food consumption, medications, and body fat percentage. Learn more about these factors from Keys for Life.

22: As in “SR22,” the form an insurance company is required to include with a driver’s file as they begin the process of reinstating or maintaining their driving privileges after a traffic-related offense such as a DUI/DWI. It is also referred to as SR22 insurance (although it is not insurance) or a certificate of financial responsibility. Find out what else you can expect after a DUI/DWI.

75: The number of years a DUI/DWI conviction stays on your record in Florida. In other states, this number ranges from 5 years to the rest of your life.

$10,000: The average cost of a first-offense DUI/DWI. It can be slightly lower in some states, but notably higher in other states such as Illinois, where the average cost rises to nearly $15,000. (If you’re dealing with the fallout of a DUI/DWI conviction, follow this guide to get back on the road.)

There’s one final number worth noting:

0: The amount of driving you should do after consuming alcohol. It’s likely the best number there is for ensuring the safety of you, your loved ones, and others.

If you have to ask yourself what’s the alcohol limit, you've had too much to drink and should not drive. According to the CDC >, an average of 32 people die every day in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. It's ALWAYS better to play it safe!

If you do find yourself recovering from a DUI/DWI conviction, Direct Auto Insurance can help you file an SR22 and find affordable car insurance. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or come into a Direct Auto location near you for the coverage you need and the respect you deserve.

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