How Much Can I Drink and Drive? Advice from Miami's Distinguished DUI Lawyer


Posted on December 30, 2015 by Jeffrey Feiler

As a prominent DUI lawyer in Miami, I felt it was important to explore the issue of drinking and driving in South Florida. In Florida, it is unlawful to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater. It is therefore important to understand how much alcohol a person can drink without exceeding a .08 blood alcohol percentage. Here are some calculations which should be helpful. The math varies from person to person, but here are some general concepts.

Different alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts of alcohol. For example a 100 proof vodka is 50% alcohol. So, if a person consumes 2 ounces of vodka, he or she will have consumed 1 ounce of 100% ethanol alcohol. Wine on the other hand is approximately 13.5% alcohol by volume. Therefore, a person would have to consume 7 ounces of wine to equal approximately 1 ounce of alcohol.

Beer has even less alcohol by volume. Alcohol content varies as there are many types of beer. Assuming that an average beer contains 5% alcohol, then it would take approximately 16 to 20 ounces of beer to equal 1 ounce of alcohol.

Now, let's talk about how an ounce of alcohol consumed relates to alcohol in an individual's bloodstream. A larger person, one having more body mass and blood, will have a lower blood alcohol percentage then a smaller person will. For example, if you pour an ounce of alcohol into a gallon of water, the percentage will be lower than if you pour an ounce of alcohol into a quart of water. According to accepted research, if a 130 pound man consumes three ounces of ethanol, his blood alcohol percentage will be about .09%. However, if a 200 pound man consumes the same three ounces of alcohol, his blood alcohol level will be .06%. A woman weighing 100 pounds who consumes three ounces of ethanol will have a blood alcohol level of .14%, whereas a woman weighing 150 pounds who consumes the same three ounces of ethanol will have a blood alcohol of .09%.

Where people oftentimes run into trouble is not knowing how much alcohol is contained in the beverage they are drinking. For example, when we use the term "one drink", that could mean many very different things. If your "one drink" is a 6 ounce vodka martini with no mixers, you will consume about three ounces of ethanol in that one drink, putting most men over the legal limit. Whereas, if your drink is a vodka and cranberry juice with several ice cubes, then the amount of alcohol will be proportionately less than in the martini.

Another pitfall lies in the question of what is considered a glass of wine. Technically, one glass of wine is approximately 5 or 6 ounces, however, in reality, a glass of wine served in a bar or restaurant may turn out to be about six or eight ounces. Therefore, a glass of wine to one person may equal a half ounce of alcohol but a glass of wine to another person may represent a full ounce of alcohol. At the end of the night, when people say they each drank three glasses of wine, under the circumstances one person may be below the legal limit and the other is above.

The best bet if you're drinking is to have a designated driver or call an Uber or Lyft. If you are not sure whether you're above the limit, trust your instincts: if you're feeling affected by alcohol, then you probably are! Alcohol affects people differently. One person can have one drink and be impaired, while their friend could better tolerate the same amount of alcohol. Also, what you ate, how much sleep you are getting, and many other factors can affect impairment, regardless of your actual blood alcohol content. Remember that DUI can be based on impairment as long as you have had any alcohol, even a relatively small amount. If you are impaired, driving is a danger!

Happy holidays and please drive safely! If you find yourself in a situation where you are being pulled over, and may be impaired by alcohol, you should consult with a DUI lawyer. Contact Jeffrey Feiler of The Feiler Law Firm at (305) 670-7700 to get proper representation in the event of an arrest or DUI charge.

Disclaimer: The names of all persons, including Police, have been changed to fictitious names in the case of blog posts about actual cases handled by Jeffrey Feiler and the Feiler Law Firm. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal, legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.