How Many Drinks Is 0.08 for a Man?

Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2023
BAC of 0.08
The BAC differs significantly between men and women.

A man reaches 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage with about four to five drinks.

BAC is the percentage of alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) in the bloodstream.

The amount of alcohol in the blood varies widely due to several factors, including:

  • The amount of alcohol
  • The rate at which it is drunk (quickly, slowly, or gradually)
  • The quantity of food eaten before drinking
  • Age and weight of the person

What is BAC?

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measure of alcohol content present in the bloodstream. It is expressed in a percentage calculated by a ratio of ethyl alcohol per 100 mL of blood. For example, a BAC of 0.04 percent means 0.04 grams of alcohol for every 100 mL of blood.

The legal alcohol limit at a BAC of 0.08 helps discourage and prevent alcohol-impaired driving and reduces deaths, injuries, and property damage.

The BAC differs significantly between men and women. Women tend to have higher BAC than men of the same age and weight. Men can metabolize alcohol faster because their stomach and liver produce highly active forms of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase.

How do you calculate a standard drink?

Different types of alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor have different alcohol percentage content.

The United States sets one standard drink as containing around 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in the following:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol content)
  • 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
  • 5 ounces of wine (approximately 12 percent alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits/liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)

What are the physical effects of reaching BAC 0.08?

At a BAC of 0.08 percent, a person may experience severe impairment in the following:

  • Muscle coordination (affecting speech, balance, vision, hearing, and reaction time)
  • Judgment
  • Self-control
  • Reasoning
  • Memory
  • Concentration on the road or control of speed
  • Processing any information

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What are the effects of alcohol at various BAC levels?

Table 1. Physical and mental effects at different BAC levels
BAC Effects
0.01 to 0.03 percent No apparent effects or slight mood elevation
0.04 to 0.06 percent A feeling of relaxation, warmth, and minor impairment of reasoning and memory
0.07 to 0.09 percent Mild impairment of balance, speech, and vision
0.10 to 0.12 percent Significant impairment of motor coordination, slurred speech, and loss of judgment
0.13 to 0.15 percent
  • Gross impairment of motor control, blurred vision, and major loss of balance
  • The onset of dysphoria (anxiety and restlessness)
0.16 to 0.20 percent Dysphoria predominates along with nausea
0.25 to 0.30 percent
  • Severe intoxication, mental confusion, needs assistance in walking 
  • Dysphoria with nausea and vomiting
0.35 to 0.40 percent Loss of consciousness

0.40 percent and above

(a potentially fatal blood alcohol level)

The onset of coma and risk of death due to respiratory failure
Medically Reviewed on 2/3/2023
References
Image Source: iStock image

What Is A Standard Drink? https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/22689-blood-alcohol-content-bac

The effectiveness of a 0.05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving in the United States. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.12365

What Is Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)? https://vaden.stanford.edu/super/learn/alcohol-drug-info/reduce-your-risk/what-blood-alcohol-concentration-bac