Last night you acted wisely. You were drinking, so you stayed off the road. If you were pulled over this morning, though, is it possible you could still be arrested for DUI?
Legally, you can be arrested for DUI if your blood alcohol level is at 0.08 percent or higher — or if an officer perceives you as impaired and can obtain convincing evidence of your impairment. So the first question is, are you still impaired?
Could you still be intoxicated the morning after?
Yes. Whether your blood alcohol is still above the limit depends on a number of factors. The main ones are how much alcohol you consumed last night and at what time. Although there are many home remedies promising to wake you up or prevent hangovers, the only thing that can actually reduce your blood alcohol content is time.
The average person can break down a single unit of alcohol — a 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot — in about an hour. (Bear in mind that bars and restaurants may serve you more than a single unit of alcohol per drink.)
One hour to break down one standard drink is an estimate for the average person, but not everyone breaks down alcohol at the same rate. A number of factors can affect how quickly your body breaks down alcohol, including your height, weight, gender, age and metabolism, whether you were eating, and whether you take medications that affect the absorption of alcohol.
Count how many drinks you had. Know that you’ll need at least the same number of hours to let the alcohol dissipate in your system — and probably more. Give yourself more time if you’re not sure how many drinks you had, if you didn’t eat, if you’re on certain medications, or if you know you break down alcohol more slowly than others.
So, you can still get a DUI the next morning?
Yes, if you’re still impaired. DUI law doesn’t have any time limitation.
As we mentioned earlier, you could still be pulled over and arrested for DUI even if your blood alcohol isn’t over 0.08. That could occur if you appear to be impaired — which could easily happen if you’re still affected by the previous night’s drinking.
The best advice is not to risk driving unless you’re sure you’re no longer under the influence of alcohol. Also refrain from driving if a hangover could negatively affect your ability to drive.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, we urge you to contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible in order to give yourself the best chance to preserve your rights and driving privileges.