Perhaps you lost track of time due to a stimulating conversation. Maybe you get an unexpected phone call from your spouse when you are halfway through your second round of drinks after work. Whatever the reason, sometimes you may feel like you must soon leave a social environment where you have recently consumed alcohol.
Most everyone has heard suggestions about how to sober up quickly in an emergency. You don’t want to get pulled over for drunk driving on your way to where you need to be. Some people swear by cold showers or washing their faces in cold water, while others insist that a cup of hot, black coffee can counteract a beer.
Is there any way to sober up quickly and drive safely after ingesting alcohol?
The only way to sober up is to metabolize the drinks
Despite what individuals may claim about feeling sober after engaging in certain behavior, there is no evidence that any tricks to sober up quickly actually work. Caffeine can make someone more alert and can mask the signs of alcohol intoxication but will not reduce someone’s impairment. The same is true of a cold shower or a meal.
Once the alcohol is in your bloodstream, the only way to be sure that you are safe to drive is to wait for your body to metabolize the drinks. Typically, people can metabolize one drink’s worth of alcohol per hour. If you have had two beers when someone calls to ask you to pick them up, you would have to wait two hours from when you first started drinking to fully metabolize both drinks.
The problem with trying to sober up quickly is that you won’t
Whether you splash cold water on your face, drink a cup of coffee or do a few jumping jacks before getting in your car, none of those sobriety tricks will actually reduce your blood alcohol concentration.
Given that these methods do not eliminate the alcohol in your bloodstream, you may still have elevated risk of causing a crash. You are also at risk of failing a breath test or even field sobriety tests during a traffic stop.
Learning more about how alcohol affects the body can help you avoid mistakes that could result in drunk driving charges.