No one wants to get a DUI, but in car-centric cities like San Diego, it’s pretty common for people to drive after enjoying a few drinks. If you want to go somewhere and still enjoy a drink or two, the good news is that eating food does affect your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), keeping it lower by helping to slow down the absorption of alcohol. In fact, one of the best ways to ensure your BAC stays below the legal limit is to eat something before drinking.
Does Food Slow Down Alcohol Absorption?
Yes. In fact, a person drinking on an empty stomach can have a BAC three times higher than someone who drinks before eating.
There are two main reasons why eating before drinking does help reduce an individual’s BAC. The first is that the food itself helps dilute the volume of alcohol in the stomach while providing a barrier against its absorption into the stomach lining.
The second, and even more important reason, is that because your body is also digesting food, it will slow the passage of alcohol into the intestine. When you drink, 20% of the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach, and 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. By eating before or while drinking (but not after), you ensure the alcohol will pass into the intestines in lower quantities over a slower time.
Between these two factors, you will have a slower overall alcohol absorption rate, and when you have a slower absorption rate, less alcohol enters your bloodstream, leaving you with a lower BAC.
While eating food does affect your alcohol absorption rate, keeping your BAC lower, it is not the only factor that influences how quickly your body absorbs alcohol. Other factors that may affect your alcohol absorption rate include your age, your weight, your metabolism, your gender, the rate at which you drink, and even your current stress level.
Will Food Prevent You From Getting a DUI?
While food can lower your BAC, you can still become drunk if you drink excessively, no matter how much you ate prior to drinking. That being said, quantity does matter quite a bit when it comes to how food affects your BAC. A few peanuts, pretzels, or chips served up at the bar will not absorb alcohol the same way that eating a full meal before you start drinking will.
Although it’s a good idea to avoid drinking on an empty stomach, even if you eat first, you should always give yourself about an hour after each drink before driving to allow your body not only to absorb but also eliminate the alcohol. The longer you wait before driving after you’ve consumed alcohol, the lower your chance of getting a DUI.
If you have been charged with drinking and driving, call an attorney like Peter M. Liss as soon as possible. You can schedule a free initial consultation by calling (760) 643-4050.