You’ve just wrapped up a night out of drinking and have to make your way home. You are debating whether or not ditch your car and pick it up tomorrow morning or to wait a little longer to sober up and drive home.

If there is ever an internal debate about whether or not you have sobered up enough to drive, the answer should always be to call a sober ride. This is because there are many factors that can affect one’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, or a measurement of intoxication indicated by the amount of alcohol in one’s blood stream. Sometimes when you leave more time between your last drink and driving home, your BAC can actually increase because alcohol doesn’t immediately enter your blood. There are also biological and situational elements that play a role in how long it takes individuals to reach the legal limit of 0.08%, including:

  • Type of drink: According to American Addiction Centers, the type of alcoholic beverages one consumes can play a role in their BAC level. The BAC levels in standard drinks vary ⁠— 12 ounces of beer has 5% alcohol, 8 ounces of malt liquor had 7% alcohol, 5 ounces of wine has 12% alcohol and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor has 40% alcohol.
  • Biological factors: There are several bodily factors that impact one’s BAC level. For example, men have more water and less fatty tissue than women making alcohol concentration levels typically lower for men. One’s metabolism, weight and amount of body fat can also affect BAC levels.
  • Drinking speed: On average, it takes an hour for your body to break down one standard drink. So, if you drink a lot in a short period of time instead of spacing out your drinks, then it could take longer for you to sober up.
  • Mixing drugs: Doctor-prescribed and perfectly legal over-the-counter drugs won’t change up your BAC, but they can hide your level of drunkenness.

Even if you’ve made it home safely in the past when you weren’t certain you were okay to drive, our bodies are constantly changing. Playing the safe route by planning a sober ride can save you from fines, driver’s license revocation and jail time.