Whether it’s a few cups of black coffee or a cold shower and a bottle of water, there are all kinds of “tried and true” methods for sobering up fast after a night of over-indulgence.
The only problem is that none of those things actually work. A cold shower may make you feel more awake but it actually slows down your body’s ability to process alcohol, so this choice is counter-productive. The caffeine in coffee can also make you feel alert and help stave-off hangover symptoms, but it won’t actually improve your sobriety. In fact, nothing will actually sober you up but time.
Blood alcohol content levels go down at predictable rates
Heavy drinkers may look sober faster than occasional drinkers, but that’s usually just a matter of adaptive behavior, not biology. Generally, you can expect your blood alcohol content (BAC) to go down about 0.015% per hour (and some people are slower). In practical terms, that means that if you wait an hour after your last drink before you hit the road and try to drive home, you aren’t giving your body nearly enough time to eliminate the alcohol from your system, no matter how much water or coffee you drink.
For example, if your BAC is 0.10% when you quit drinking, an hour later you’d still be legally intoxicated with a BAC of 0.085%. It’s also important to remember that you can still be charged with drunk driving even if your BAC is below 0.08%, so long as there is other evidence of impairment, such as erratic driving – so even waiting two or three hours may not make you “sober enough” to drive. If you’re waiting for your BAC to get to zero before you drive, you would need a little more than six hours to pass.
A lot of people make the mistake of confusing “alertness” with “sobriety” after they’ve had a few drinks. A simple mistake shouldn’t be allowed to affect your entire future. If you’re facing drunk driving charges after attempts to sober up, find out more about the potential defenses available to you by seeking legal guidance.