How Many Drinks Will Get You A DUI? (Chart)

If you insist on driving after a few drinks, here's what you should know about how alcohol affects your system and your criminal record.

Do you know how many drinks you can have before you're in danger of getting a drunken driving violation?

When police pull drivers over for suspected drunken driving, officers ask them to perform field sobriety tests and to take a breath test to measure Blood Alcohol Content. A BAC test measures the percentage of alcohol present in a person's bloodstream. In Michigan .08 is the legal limit.

And if you're driving after a few too many and get caught?

Plymouth Police Chief Al Cox says the city is cracking down on drunken drivers, particularly the so-called "super drunk" offenders with a Blood Alcohol Content of .17 or higher. The City of Plymouth this week passed an ordinance to allow local prosecution of "super drunk" charges, thus eliminating any chance for a plea deal for a lesser charge.

While penalties for typical drunken driving convictions can vary, "super drunk" offenders face even harsher penalties:

  • Community service for not more than 360 hours.
  • Imprisonment of not more than 180 days.
  • A fine of not less than $200 or more than $700.

When Cox spoke with Plymouth-Canton Patch before Thanksgiving, he said the extra vigilance shouldn't dissuade people from visiting local businesses—but instead should remind them to be careful.

"We certainly don’t want people to not come down and have a good time," Cox said. "They need to do it appropriately and follow the rules and be safe."

Cox said the he takes enforcing drunken driving—a charge that carries hefty legal fines and poses a public safety risk—seriously.

"If you drink and drive, I will make no apologies to anyone when we arrest you," he said.

According to the Virginia Tech Alcohol Abuse Prevention website, every 40 minutes, 0.01 percent of alcohol leaves your system. Take a look at the attached charts to see how many is too many to get behind the wheel, based on your gender, height and weight.

Cox offered one caveat, however. He said police still can arrest someone who falls short of registering a .08 if their driving ability is clearly impaired by having consumed alcohol.

As the chart indicates, a .00 is the only "safe" driving limit.

Options available to avoid drunken driving

Cox said in November that in addition to increased police patrols on city streets, local cab services also will have an increased holiday presence to help provide a safe trip home for bar patrons.

Many local bars, Cox said, arrange with cab services to have cars available within the city limits. 

Plymouth-area bars, Cox said, also often keep a list of local cab services and are willing to call a cab for patrons. 

Ensuring a safe ride home for patrons is in a local business' best interest, Cox said.

No bar owner wants to be the establishment that over-served someone who causes a drunken-driving accident, Cox said, and be subjected to subsequent lawsuits.

Patrons also can locate local cab services with the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority's smartphone app, which offers a list of local providers.


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