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You did the right thing last night -- you didn't drive drunk and you got home (or wherever) safe. But if you're headed back out early the next morning, there's a chance that alcohol in your system hasn't completely worn off. And if you get pulled over, you may be asked to submit to some field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer. You haven't been drinking since last night -- but could you still get charged with a DUI today?
Here's what you need to know.
You may have heard of all kinds of tricks to sober up: cold showers, coffee, greasy breakfast. But while any of those might help you feel more alert or assuage your hangover, none of them actually remove alcohol from your blood stream. And in the end, that's what most DUI convictions are built on -- blood-alcohol results from breathalyzer or blood tests. All it takes in most states is a .08 positive test and you're guilty of driving under the influence.
The one thing proven to reduce the amount of alcohol in your blood? Time. Exactly how long it can take for alcohol to clear your bloodstream depends on a variety of factors, including how much you had to drink, how quickly, your height, weight, and metabolism, and even your gender. On average, it takes an hour or two to break down a .02 blood alcohol concentration. That means if you've got a .08, it could take up to five or six hours to clear.
Convictions on the Clock
State DUI laws can vary, but none of them are time specific. Meaning it doesn't matter when you get pulled over; it doesn't matter when you stopped drinking; and it doesn't matter if you slept in between. If you are over the legal limit or too intoxicated to drive well, you could get a DUI. So your best bet is to be as careful as possible the day after doing some heavy drinking, and err on the side of caution -- just because you slept last night doesn't mean you "slept it off," legally speaking.
If you have more questions or if you've been charged with drunk driving, contact an experienced DUI attorney today.