Winterfest 2019: How Many Three-Ounce Beer Samples Before I Reach .08?

The Marc Lopez Law Firm is excited to attend the 11th Annual Brewers of Indiana Guild Winterfest. This year’s festivities will be stretched over two days—Friday, February 1, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Previous Winterfests have been a blast, as attendees have a chance to try three-ounce beer samples from over 100 Hoosier breweries (and some non-Hoosier breweries, too).

This will be the third Winterfest the Marc Lopez Law Firm has attended, and we’re often asked, “How many three-ounce beer samples can I drink before I am over .08?” The answer is: It depends.

The staff of the Marc Lopez Law Firm (and unidentified photobombers) enjoying themselves at the 2018 Winterfest.

Much like intoxication, many things influence how fast a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level rises. Some of these factors are obvious. For example, drinking a lot of alcohol very quickly accelerates intoxication, while eating before drinking will slow down the rate of absorption.

But some of the things that affect how quickly your BAC rises aren’t so obvious—things like a person’s age, weight, body type, prescribed medication, whether or not that person has slept well the night before and even if that person is stressed while drinking. Even a person’s biological sex affects your level of intoxication. Men and women may be equal under the law, but beer still treats us differently.

It’s therefore impossible to know with certainty how many 3-ounce samples it will take before a person reaches the legal limit of a .08 blood alcohol content (which is a measurement of grams of ethanol per 100 milliliters of blood OR per 210 liters of breath). Despite this fact, we can use some general information to try to make an educated guesses.

Ordinarily, a 200-pound man can drink four 12-ounce beers before his BAC is .08. This assumes a standard alcohol content of about five percent in beer. It’s also safe to assume that the human body eliminates alcohol at a rate of about .015 grams per hour.

So if a 200-pound man drinks four beers, and those beers have an alcohol content of about five percent, his BAC will be .08. If he stops drinking, his BAC will be .065 after about an hour. A person can still be charged with DUI / OVWI if a that person’s BAC is .065, so this man may want to wait a couple of hours before driving. Two hours after his last drink, and our 200-pound man’s BAC should be approximately .05.

The problem is, this generalized formula is based on a number of assumptions, and if those assumptions don’t apply to the facts, the formula is not very helpful. For example, most craft beers that one will find at the Microbrewers Festival have a higher alcohol content than five percent. In addition, you’re drinking three-ounce samples rather than full beers, and there can be a big difference between three ounces from a generous brewer versus three ounces from someone who’s running low. On top of that, the whole point of attending this sort of festival is to sample a bunch of different things. You might try five different beers in an hour, each with a different alcohol content.

All of these variables make estimating a person’s BAC level difficult to calculate and predict. I do, however, have some good news. The Marc Lopez Law Firm will be handing out $10 Uber coupons at the Winterfest. Come find us to say hello and help make your trip home a little easier!

The Marc Lopez Law Firm represents people accused of criminal acts, with a special emphasis on defending those accused of drunk driving.  If you have any questions, give Attorney Marc Lopez a call at 317-632-3642.