It’s a common misconception that if you consume certain alcohol drinks, you can keep your BAC lower than if you consume other alcoholic drinks. For example, I’ve heard several of my friends say, “I’m going to stick to beer because I’ve got to drive home tonight.” Unfortunately, I had to advise my friend that whether they drink mixed drinks, wine, or even beer, it’s almost all about the same.
Let’s take my buddy’s beer. The average beer is about 12 ounces. It’s also, on average, about 5 percent alcohol. Here’s my disclaimer; alcohol content for beer varies widely. I’m referring to the most common, run of the mill, lagers. For every ounce of beer, there’s about 0.05 ounces of alcohol. This means that in that 12 ounces of beer, about 0.6 ounces are alcohol (12 ounces x 0.05 ounces = 0.6 ounces).
Let’s take the mixed drink that my buddy avoided. You average mixed drink has about one to two shots of alcohol in it. That’s one to two ounces of alcohol. Let’s just say 1 ½ ounces. The remainder of the cocktail is whatever mixer you choose, cola, juice, tonic, ginger ale, etc. The majority of spirits used for mixed drinks (gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, etc.) is 80 proof, which means that they have 40 percent alcohol. For every ounce of a common spirit, there’s about 0.4 ounces of alcohol. This means that for 1 ½ ounce of that spirit used in your cocktail, there’s about 0.6 ounces of alcohol (1 ½ ounces x 0.4 ounces = 0.6 ounces).
Now for my fiancé’s poison of choice; wine. Again, I’ll give a disclaimer. The alcohol content of wine varies greatly. However, the average wine is about 13 percent alcohol, which means that for every ounce of wine, there’s about 0.13 ounces of alcohol. The average glass of wine is about five ounces. This means that for every glass of wine, there’s about 0.65 ounces of alcohol (5 ounces x 0.13 ounces = 0.65 ounces).
When it comes to keeping your BAC low to avoid a California DUI, the type of alcohol really isn’t as important as some other factors such as the rate of ingestion, body type of the drinker, and the amount of food eaten before drinking.