How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

If you have a drink, you may be curious about knowing how long does alcohol stay in your system? A healthy liver processes about one drink every hour so one drink stays in your system for one hour.

It’s important to know how one drink is defined. It’s about 12 ounces of 5% beer, five ounces of champagne or wine, or one shot of liquor.

While alcohol stays in your system for about one hour, for the purposes of driving, if you have to take a breath, urine or hair test, it’s important to know that alcohol can be found in the body for much longer. Alcohol can stay in the blood for up to 24 hours, in the urine for up to 80 hours, and in the hair follicles for up to three months.

Factors That Determine How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System

There are different factors that determine and change how long alcohol stays in the body, including body weight, gender, and whether or not you eat before drinking.

A male body usually has more water and so there is a higher alcohol tolerance. Males also have more of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol in their bodies. If you are eating before you have a drink then you are able to keep the level lower for longer since the food stops the alcohol from going to the small intestine too quickly. Generally, the more you weigh, the more alcohol you will have to have to increase your blood alcohol level. If weight is due to fat then this may not be true since alcohol doesn’t enter fat and instead stays in the bloodstream. If body fat is the cause of the weight then someone who weighs more would still be just as drunk as someone with a slimmer body type.

How Does the Body Metabolize Alcohol?

Even though alcohol does go through the digestive system, it doesn’t undergo extensive digestion within the digestive tract the same way food does. When alcohol goes into the upper gastrointestinal tract, much of it is absorbed straight through to the bloodstream from the tissue lining of the stomach. Once in the bloodstream, it is then carried throughout the body and goes to the brain. The absorption mechanism can be slowed when there is food in the stomach since the food absorbs alcohol and prevents it from coming in contact with the stomach lining.

How Long Does It Take for You to Feel the Effects of Alcohol?

Someone healthy will generally start to experience the effects within 15 to 45 minutes. Most men with no tolerance start to exhibit intoxication when the blood alcohol level reaches 0.05%, the ability to drive is impaired at 0.07%, and at 0.10% he is clearly intoxicated. The higher your blood alcohol content, the more likely you are to display signs of intoxication.