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Beer, Wine, or Liquor? They All Create the Same Level of Impairment!

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Serving sizes of alcoholWhen you're planning a night out on the town, remember that all types of alcohol create the same level of impairment on a per drink basis. However, you need to pay close attention to portion control to make sure you’re not underestimating how much you’ve been drinking.

Understanding the Size of Your Drink

The misconception that beer is less harmful than hard liquor is based on the simple observation that you need to drink more ounces of it to become legally intoxicated. However, for the purpose of calculating Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), drinks are defined differently based on the type of beverage you're consuming. One drink is defined as:  

  • A 12-ounce bottle of regular beer
  • One ounce of 100-proof liquor
  • A 5-ounce glass of table wine

These serving sizes are based on the fact that each portion contains 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.

Beer drinkers have a relatively easy time assessing their portions since bottles and cans are a standard size, but wine and liquor are easy to underestimate due to inconsistencies in seving sizes. Although most bars serve a one-ounce shot, shot glasses you purchase for home use can be one ounce, 1.25 ounces, or 1.5 ounces. Wine drinkers experience a similar problem, since a drink is classified as just five ounces when one glass is often between nine and 14 ounces.  A 750ml bottle of wine should provide five glasses, so it's a bad sign if you're only getting half that number.

Other Factors Affecting BAC

BAC charts available online provide a rough estimate of your level of impairment based on your weight, gender, and the number of drinks you've had. However, the rate at which you've been drinking, how much food you've consumed while drinking, and interactions with any medications you've taken can also affect your level of impairment. All of these factors can make it difficult to accurately estimate what your BAC will be before you get behind the wheel.

Accuracy of Breathalyzer Tests

If you're pulled over with a 0.08% BAC or higher and you don't believe you're legally intoxicated, keep in mind that breathalyzer tests aren't perfect. For example, having recently burped, vomited, or used mouthwash can throw off the results.

Protecting Your Legal Rights

A drunk driving charge can carry serious penalties, so seeking skilled representation is a must. To schedule a free consultation with Virginia DUI/DWI attorney T. Kevin Wilson, please call (703) 361-6100 or (540) 347-4944.

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