How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Blood

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Blood?

Alcohol can have a significant impact on your body, especially when it comes to your bloodstream. Knowing how long alcohol stays in your blood is crucial, as it can affect your ability to drive, work, and make decisions. In South Africa, where drinking is a common social activity, understanding the timeline of alcohol absorption and elimination is important for staying safe and responsible.

Alcohol Absorption

When you consume alcohol, it enters your bloodstream through the walls of your stomach and small intestine. From there, it is carried throughout your body, affecting your central nervous system and other organs. The rate at which alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream depends on several factors, including the amount of alcohol consumed, your weight, and whether you have eaten recently.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Blood?

The duration that alcohol remains in your blood can vary depending on a variety of factors. On average, it takes about 30 minutes to two hours for your body to fully absorb a standard alcoholic drink. Once the alcohol is absorbed, your body begins to metabolize it at a rate of about 0.015% BAC (blood alcohol concentration) per hour. This means that if your BAC is 0.08%, it would take about five and a half hours for your body to completely eliminate all alcohol from your bloodstream.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Blood

Factors Affecting Alcohol Metabolism

Several factors can affect how quickly alcohol is metabolized in your body, including:

  • Body weight and composition
  • Metabolic rate
  • Hydration levels
  • Tolerance to alcohol
  • Medications or medical conditions

It’s important to note that individual differences play a significant role in how long alcohol stays in your blood. Some people may metabolize alcohol more quickly than others, while certain medical conditions or medications may slow down the process.

Driving and Blood Alcohol Concentration

In South Africa, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving is 0.05%. This means that if you are caught driving with a BAC higher than 0.05%, you could face fines, license suspension, or even imprisonment. It’s crucial to be aware of how much alcohol is in your system before getting behind the wheel, as driving under the influence can have serious consequences.

How to Reduce Blood Alcohol Concentration

If you have been drinking and need to reduce your blood alcohol concentration quickly, there are a few things you can do:

  • Stop drinking alcohol and switch to water or other non-alcoholic beverages
  • Eat a meal to help absorb the alcohol in your stomach
  • Wait it out – time is the only sure way to eliminate alcohol from your system

Keep in mind that these methods may help lower your BAC slightly, but the most effective way to reduce it is to wait for your body to metabolize the alcohol naturally.


Understanding how long alcohol stays in your blood is essential for making informed decisions about drinking and driving. By knowing the factors that affect alcohol metabolism and the legal limits for blood alcohol concentration, you can stay safe and responsible when enjoying alcoholic beverages in South Africa. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and avoid driving if you have consumed alcohol.