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Binge Drinking Defined

There’s a lot of confusion about drinking alcohol. How much is too much? How many drinks does it take to reach the .08% legal limit? It’s hard for people to understand because there’s no single formula that applies to every person. Factors, such as gender, body weight, body fat, food, and even fatigue and illness all play a role in how alcohol affects a person.

One thing we do know is that binge drinking typically leads to alcohol impairment. When a person has a number of alcoholic drinks in a single episode, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is almost guaranteed to be at or above the .08% BAC limit.

How Much is Too Much?

So, what counts as binge drinking? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men – in about 2 hours.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is an organization that conducts an annual national survey on drug use and health. The SAMHSA defines binge drinking as having 4 or more drinks for women or 5 or more drinks for men on the same occasion. The “same occasion” would be at the same time or within a few hours of each other – you get the picture.

While the NIAAA and the SAMHSA have slightly different definitions of binge drinking, we can gather that it basically means 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men on the same occasion, which could easily stretch out over several hours one evening or one afternoon.

Who Should Avoid Alcohol Altogether?

According to the NIAAA, the following categories of individuals should avoid alcohol altogether:

  • People who plan to operate machinery.
  • People who plan to drive a vehicle.
  • People who are taking medications that interact with alcohol.
  • People with a medical condition that is aggravated by alcohol.
  • Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

We hope this information helps clear up any misunderstandings about binge drinking. If you had 4 or 5 drinks or more and you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County, contact our office for a free case evaluation!