People in Virginia often say that, generally, it takes one to two drinks an hour to reach the driving BAC limit of .08. However, there are numerous factors that affect how the body absorbs alcohol, and two people who are even the same in gender and size may handle alcohol completely differently. Unfortunately, this can lead to someone getting behind the wheel when they should not drive.

According to Very Well Mind, gender plays a major role in how alcohol affects someone, and there is a significant difference between men and women.  One reason is men have higher levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, which is an enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the liver and stomach.

It is also important to understand that tolerance has nothing to do with the BAC level. A higher number of drinks may not seem to affect some people as much as others because they are used to drinking more, but the alcohol does not clear out of the body any faster. This can make it difficult to determine if one is safe to drive.

The Stanford Office of Alcohol Policy and Education discusses additional factors that affect alcohol absorption. One is the amount of food in the stomach. Alcohol has a more profound effect on an empty stomach, and it is better to eat while drinking to slow down absorption. The speed of drinking, such as sipping vs. taking shots, has a big impact as well.

Drugs, both prescription and illicit, do not mix well with alcohol. Some significantly increase alcohol’s effect, while others can cause liver damage. In severe cases, the interaction can be deadly.

Due to alcohol’s varying impact on different people, it is smart to plan on alternate transportation if one plans to drink at all.