Can you get a DWI after ‘sleeping it off’ at night?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2016 | Drunk Driving

After a night out, some people believe that a cup of coffee, or a few hours of sleep, are enough the sober up. That cup of coffee with dessert can provide some false confidence of being sober (or, at least, less impaired), according to Robert Swift, M.D., Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University. He says that caffeine fools the systems in the brain and body into making an impaired person think that they are sobering up.

Sleep (actually time) is the best medicine for sobering up. While time will eventually work, it is possible to measure above the legal limit when driving to work in the morning, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed the night before. The liver is the filtering system in the body that eliminates alcohol from the blood stream.

How Alcohol Is Eliminated From The Body

However, the rate at which the liver metabolizes alcohol is not excessively fast. On average, the liver will eliminate alcohol rate an average rate of roughly .015 BAC per hour (there is a range that different people may experience). That means if someone has been drinking until last call and has to work early in the morning, his or her BAC may exceed .08 percent after sleeping through the night.

An Example Of A Morning After Scenario

A morning after DWI arrest may be startling for someone who feels fine to drive. However it is possible. For the purpose of discussion, let’s assume a person stayed out until last call at 2 a.m. and consumed enough alcohol to reach a BAC reading of .20. That same person hailed a cab and went to bed to get some slumber before an 8 am alarm.

Six hours of sleep may feel sobering, however, the average person would experience a drop of roughly .09 BAC during that time frame, leaving his or her BAC at .11. Heading out to the car to get to work at 8:30 or even 9:00 would not eliminate the risk for DWI charges. By 9:00 am, the person’s BAC could still measure .095.

On the other hand, a traffic stop — or a breath, blood or urine test — at 9:00 in the morning may have as many problems as those processes can bring at any other time of the day. Regardless of the time of an arrest, seeking the advice and advocacy of an experienced DWI defense lawyer can help you to protect your rights.