How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?

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When you drink alcohol, it slowly enters your system. After five minutes 10% remains in stomach and the remaining 90% goes to small intestine then passes to liver. How long does alcohol stay in your system depends on the combination of metabolism, excretion and evaporation.

Alcohol in body


Metabolism means breaking down of alcohol, which is mainly done by the liver. 90 % of alcohol stays in your body and is metabolised. The remaining 10 % is via excretion and evaporation which occurs through breath, urine, sweat, faeces and saliva.

Blood alcohol content or Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the measurement used to define alcohol intoxication. It means the amount of alcohol in your blood.

Alcohol is broken down at a rate of 0.16 BAC per hour. It is equal to one standard drink per hour that you take.

Does body size affect the breaking down rate of alcohol?

Body size has no effect on it. Instead your body weight affects the rise of BAC. A female weighing lesser than a male can easily reach the legal limit of BAC .08 with two or three drinks. A male when has five drinks reaches the legal limit of BAC. A 5’ female metabolises alcohol at the same rate as a 6’ obese male.

What else can affect the rate of alcohol absorption?

The amount of body fat can affect it.

Lesser the fat, faster is the absorption; but same is the metabolizing rate: 0.16 BAC per hour.

What is the legal limit of BAC in most of the countries?

BAC of 0.08 % is considered as the legal limit. It is illegal to drive with BAC of 0.08 % or higher.

How can one measure BAC?

Calculating the number of hours the alcohol stays in your system is easy. But to know the exact BAC, a breath analyzer or blood test is required.

How many hours are required to eliminate BAC of 0.08 %?

Your body breaks down alcohol at the rate of about 0.005 per twenty minutes.

Time in hours BAC
After 1 hour 0.065
After 2 hours 0.05
After 3 hours 0.035
After 4 hours 0.02
After 5 hours 0.005


By the above chart, it is understood that, the BAC of 0.08 % will be eliminated after 5 hours and twenty minutes.

So, imagine 3 pints of beer stays for approximately 11 hours in your body.

To reach the legal limit, it takes only 3 drinks in an hour for an average build person.

The 90 % of alcohol that remains in your body is enough to cause impaired vision, coordination, reaction and judgment. It also causes drowsiness. Hence it is illegal to drink and drive which majorly is the cause for accidents.

Alcohol can be detected in urine up to 24 hours after you had your drink.

How can you keep BAC low?

  • Be Wise, Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
  • Do not gulp your drink down at one shot.
  • Intake of non-alcoholic beverages can keep the BAC low.