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Why you may still be drunk the next morning

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Initials for DUI attorney Jerome Paun

You get pulled over on the way to work, at six in the morning. The officer says you were swerving and he or she believes you are intoxicated. You assure the officer that you're fine and take the breath test -- which shows that you are, in fact, over the legal limit.

You're as shocked as anyone as you're arrested and your license is taken away. Sure, you went out with your friends last night, but you were careful. You just walked to the bar after work, and you took a cab home. You specifically tried not to drink and drive, only getting in the car after you'd slept through the night. Shouldn't you be fine to drive?

That's what a lot of people assume, but it's not always the case. It depends on what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was when you stopped drinking and how long you were asleep. Your BAC is going to fall by about 0.016 percent every hour, whether you were drinking whiskey, beer, wine, mixed drinks, or anything else.

So, say your BAC was twice the legal limit when you left the bar at two in the morning, putting it at 0.16. You only slept for four hours, so your BAC would still be 0.096 at six the following morning. Even an hour later, at seven, it would still be right at that 0.08 limit. It wouldn't fall all the way to zero until noon, so some level of alcohol would be detected all morning.

When you get an unexpected DUI, it can turn your life upside down. You tried to follow the law and now you're facing charges anyway. Make sure you know about your legal defense options moving forward.

Source: Drink Fox, "How Long Alcohol Stays In Your System," accessed May 12, 2017

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