How Long Does It Take to Pass a Breathalyzer?

How Long Does It Take to Pass a Breathalyzer
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So you’re out drinking with your buddies, and you’re having a good time. So much so, in fact, that you forget that you have to drive yourself home. You’re a couple of beers in, and you’re pretty sure you’ve got more than a buzz going on. The problem is, nobody can drive you home, and you have to wait until you sober up, or else you risk getting pulled over and subjected to a breathalyzer test. But how long does it take to pass a breathalyzer?

Understanding blood alcohol content, or BAC

Breathalyzer tests analyze a person’s blood alcohol content or BAC. The BAC is a measure of intoxication that is used by law enforcement to determine whether a person is legally fit to drive a vehicle.

Breathalyzers are able to measure a person’s BAC because the alcohol we drink is absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually reaches our lungs and is vaporized when we breathe. Breathalyzers analyze the alcohol molecules to determine whether the person taking the test is above or beyond the legal limit.

In the United States, having a BAC of 0.08% means you are legally impaired. Once you are pulled over and subjected to a breathalyzer test, scoring with a BAC of 0.08% or higher could put you at risk of being charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or a DWI (Driving While Impaired).

Factors that affect blood alcohol content (BAC)

It’s important for you to know that your BAC is affected by many different factors. Two people can be drinking the same thing at the same party and still have varying BAC’s. The following are a couple of the factors that affect BAC:

Consumption rate

The faster you drink, the faster you’ll get drunk. It’s common sense.

Amount consumed

This is another obvious one. The more alcohol you consume, the higher your BAC will be.

The strength of drink

Some drinks have higher percentages of alcohol than others. Beers are considered to have lower levels of alcohol compared to “harder” drinks such as vodka and brandy.


Older people are at a higher risk of getting drunk fast compared to younger folk.

Body type

Your weight can affect how easy it would be for you to get drunk. Heavier people tend to have more water in their system, which helps to dilute the alcohol they consume.


Some people digest and synthesize food faster than other.

Food in the system

A common piece of advice for people who drink is to eat a lot first before consuming alcohol. This is because having food in your stomach helps slow down the absorption of alcohol’s molecules in your system.

How long does it take to pass a breathalyzer?

So, how long does it take to pass a breathalyzer? This actually depends on how much alcohol is already present in your system. There is an estimated pace, however, which will help you calculate how long it will take you to sober up. It’s a pace of 0.015 of BAC per hour. This means that for every hour that a person is not drinking, the alcohol in their system gets metabolized and their BAC drops.

Confusing? Here’s a simpler way of putting it. Say for example you already have a BAC of 0.08. It would take you about 5.33 hours to sober up again and metabolize all the alcohol in your body completely. Just remember that for every hour that you are not drinking, your BAC drops by 0.015%.

So to conclude, to answer the question, “How long does it take to pass a breathalyzer?” The answer depends on your current BAC level. From there, you deduct 0.015 per hour, and you’ll be able to project when your BAC would go back to normal.


The things that you should consider if you want to pass a breathalyzer test are your blood alcohol content levels and the factors that affect this. But passing a breathalyzer will also require knowing the numbers that determine your blood alcohol content. This will definitely prove tricky for anyone who doesn’t carry their own personal tester.

As they say, prevention is better than the cure. Equip yourself with the right tools to help you, or avoid the cause of the problem altogether. But of course, many won’t want to trade a fun night out with friends.


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