The Morning After: How Alcohol Effects Your Body

The Morning After: How Alcohol Effects Your Body

Ever had a big night and had to drive the next day? Know the facts of the morning after.

If you’ve had a more than a few drinks the night before you might think you’re able to sleep it off and be alright to drive in the morning, but you could be playing Russian roulette and get caught out. According to findings in 2015, 12.2% of all driving under the influence (DUI) charges happen from 6am – 12pm. This is a sobering thought for motorists who are unaware that that they are doing the wrong thing.

Depending on your range and license type when caught, you could come away with a fine, license suspension or criminal charge. In a study commissioned by the Australian Road Safety Foundation of 1022 motorists, over 60% of drivers did not know how long it took for alcohol to clear their system and to sober up. In this post I’ll give a few facts about your body and alcohol and the best way to avoid a DUI the morning after.

Counting Standard Drinks

The first important fact to know is what is a standard drink? In Australia a standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol or 12.5mL of alcohol. The standard drink is a reliable method to count how much pure alcohol you have consumed; the tricky part is recognising how much alcohol is in each beverage. For instance, a schooner (425mL) of full strength beer is 1.6 standard drinks while a stubby (375mL) is 1.4 standard drinks. A glass of wine is 1.5 standard drinks with a spirit shot being 1 standard drink. If you’re not sure of the standard drinks within a beverage, the bar staff on hand will be able to help you out.

The Morning After

Now that we know the standard drinks in a few of our favourite beverages we can work out how long it takes to clear from your system.  A rough rule of thumb is that for every standard drink it will take an hour to clear from your system. So 4 glasses of wine are equal to 6 standard drinks which means if your last drink was at 12am you may not be safe to drive until 6am depending on when these drinks were consumed. Or if you have 6 schooners of beer, which is equal to 9.6 standard drinks, you are not safe to drive until 10am if the last beer was consumed at 12am also depending on when these drinks were consumed. Remember this is only a guide. Everyone is different when it comes to alcohol consumption so extra time should be allowed to be safe. There are standard drink calculators available online to help you better gauge how much you have consumed, but remember these are only to be used as a rough guide and there are many factors which come into play.

It is difficult to gauge your alcohol consumption even when counting standard drinks and it is different for every person. Your weight, liver function, age, fitness and whether you are on medication are all factors which play a part on how your body is effected by alcohol. It is always better to stay safe than sorry in situations when you are unsure by waiting longer before driving or catching a taxi. And if you are feeling hung over, it usually means that you do still have alcohol in your system.

Myths Behind Sobering Up

• MYTH - Drinking coffee, drinking water, taking a shower, exercising or vomiting will help you sober up.

  Even though they may make you feel better none of these will actually sober you up. The process to sobering up takes time and is best calculated through an hour for every standard drink. 

• MYTH - Eating and drinking water before bed will sober you up faster.

  It may make you feel better in the morning with a full stomach and feeling less dehydrated, by the time you do this the alcohol has already been absorbed into your system.

• MYTH - Regular drinkers can handle their alcohol better.

  Regular drinks may seem to have a higher tolerance to the effects of alcohol, once it is in their system they will still have similar concentrations to non-regular drinkers.

Key Take Aways

If you are to take anything away from this there are a few important points. Count your standard drinks and give an hour if not more for every standard drink before driving. If you still feel hung over in the morning, you still most likely have alcohol in your system. Finally, if you are ever unsure if you are under the limit don’t risk it, the consequences are too high to be playing Russian roulette the morning after. Buying an accurate breathalyser can dramatically lower the risk of driving while over the limit, by giving you an accurate result indicating whether it is safe to drive or not.