Everyone enjoys cutting loose every now and again, and the most popular way people tend to go about it is to enjoy a few drinks. Socializing with your friends, knocking back a few is almost always a guarantee of a good time, and the standard drink of choice in social situations is beer. On a hot day at a cookout or with a nice dinner, beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the US. However, it is important to remember to drink responsibly, and many people worry about how long after they’ve finished drinking the alcohol stays in their system, more specifically, how long does beer stay on your breath?
Beer can be detected on a person’s breath anywhere from 12 to 48 hours after they have finished consuming their last drink. Because each person is different, the way their body metabolizes alcohol in their system is different, and times can vary slightly. Though you may not be able to smell the alcohol after several hours, traces of alcohol can still be found by equipment such as a breathalyzer used by police and other testing agencies
How Long Does Beer Stay on Your Breath?
When you’re drinking and having a good time, it does not always come to mind to think about what happens after you stop drinking. For most this is not a problem. Even with traces of alcohol being present on your breath up to 48 hours after you’ve finished your last drink, this is not something that is too concerning for most.
It becomes a concern when you begin to end your night and you think about driving, or having to work the next day. Then it becomes a grave concern. In most states in the United States, a person is considered to be legally intoxicated when their Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, is higher than .08%. At this point, it is considered, in most places, illegal for a person to operate any motor vehicle or heavy machinery. This is typically determined by a breathalyzer test, testing the amount of alcohol present in a breath sample.
There are also jobs where it is prohibited to have alcohol in your system at all while on the clock. Many times there is an acceptable amount of trace alcohol that is allowed to be detected during a test, but it is a very small amount. Having traces of alcohol on your breath 36 hours after you’ve had any beer could pose a serious problem for you.
What Other Ways Can Beer Be Detected?
When most people think of a test for alcohol, they first think of a breathalyzer test, similar to what police offices use to check for those driving under the influence. Though this is the most common way, there are many others, though they are not as widely used, except in certain situations
Alcohol can be found in your blood of course, which is the 2nd most common type of test to check for the presence of alcohol. When doing a blood test, they are checking for the current blood alcohol level, but they can also check for the proteins and by-products that alcohol is broken down into, to determine if there has been alcohol consumed. These can be found in your blood up to 6 hours after the last alcoholic drink was consumed.
There are also tests that can be done on hair, urine, and even cheek swabs to find out if you’ve had alcohol recently. Hair can show evidence of alcohol consumption up to 90 days after the fact. Evidence of alcohol can be found in your urine for 12 to 24 hours with standard tests, and some newer urine tests can detect it up to 72 after. Tests on saliva will show evidence of consumption 12-24 hours later as well.
Many of these tests are only conducted if the need to be. Most often, they may be done in a rehabilitation facility for alcoholics, or if a person has been ordered by a Judge to refrain from consuming alcohol as part of a judicial proceeding or sentence. Similar to the Interlock found on some vehicles belonging to habitual DUI/DWI offenders that test for the presence of alcohol on a breath sample before the vehicle will start.
How Long Does it Take for Beer to Leave Your System?
There are a lot of factors that can go into determining how long it will take for alcohol to completely leave your system. We know that traces can be present on a breath sample for up 48 hours after you’ve finished drinking, but how long does the alcohol actually last in your body? The answer is not completely cut and dry.
The effects of alcohol can begin to be felt in the brain as soon as 15 minutes after you first start to drink. Though it may not be noticeable to you immediately, the alcohol is already going to work and doing its thing. That is because the beginning of the digestive tract is actually the mouth and throat, which absorb small amounts of alcohol as soon as you begin drinking.
From there, the alcohol moves into your stomach, where small amounts are also absorbed, then into the small intestines where the majority of the alcohol is absorbed and enters the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the alcohol moves through your body and up to your brain. This all takes place in about 1 minute. Though the alcohol is quick to enter the bloodstream, it is not as quick to leave.
A healthy male of average height and build can consume one 12 oz beer, what is considered to be one serving, and within an hour, more or less, the effects of the alcohol will be gone. The liver will have broken the alcohol down with enzymes, and the alcohol will begin to leave the body in the form of sweat, urine, and even your breath. Of course, the more you drink, the harder the liver works and the longer it will take to break down all of the alcohol
Tips For Drinking Responsibly
While beer has been around almost as long a civilization, it is important to remember that it is alcohol and it can affect your body and your brain. While there is no problem with having a few drinks, and it is enjoyable to get together with friends, or have a cold beer after a long day at work, it is very important that you are aware of your limits and you drink responsibly.
Alcohol has a numbing effect on the brain and slows down reaction times exponentially. There is a reason that 29 people die every day in car accidents involving an intoxicated driver. With the overconsumption of alcohol comes intoxication. Your motor skills slow down, your reasoning skills become impaired and you can begin to make poor choices, and your visual acuity is diminished greatly. In other words, when you become drunk, you become slow, clumsy, have trouble seeing, making sound choices, and stop reacting to changes in your environment in a meaningful way.
Here are some tips on how to enjoy yourself with alcohol, and do so responsibly:
- Know your limits -If you’ve had alcohol before, you probably have a pretty good idea of how it will affect you. Be aware of this and know beforehand how much will be too much.
- Eat before you drink, and while you’re drinking – doing this will slow the absorption of the alcohol into your system, and trick you into drinking more slowly.
- Space your drinks – When you’re drinking, alternate your alcoholic beverages with a non-alcoholic one. This will give your body time to remove some of the alcohol. This will help you to enjoy yourself without getting intoxicated
- Be Aware – know how much you are drinking, what kinds of drinks you are drinking, and how many. Different types of alcoholic beverages contain different concentrations of alcohol. Know what you are drinking and count your drinks.
- Say No – if you feel like you’ve had enough, you’ve possibly already had too much. Stop drinking and switch to non-alcoholic beverages.
- Avoid drunk driving, have a Designated Driver – if you plan on drinking, always have someone designated to be the sober driver. This should be a person that you can trust to not have any alcohol and can get everyone home soberly and safely.
Beer can be an amazing thing when handled responsibly. Everyone loves a good party from time to time, and nothing is better than getting together with a group of friends, hanging out, drinking a few beers, and having a few laughs. It is smart, though to be aware of the journey beer takes through your body and the effects that it can have. From entering your bloodstream in seconds to being detected on your breath hours afterward and found in your hair months later.
Knowing the effects that beer, or any other alcohol, can have on you, can help you be a more responsible drinker, meaning you get to enjoy the experience more.