How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Urine System – BAC Calculator

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Many people want to know “how long does alcohol stay in your urine and system.”

The truth is, trying to determine how long alcohol stays in urine is a complicated mathematical formula based on 5 to different 10 variables.

Essentially, it is primarily based on the amount of alcohol consumed in a given period of time.

Other factors that determine how long alcohol stays in the system include:

  • Body weight
  • Gender
  • Total time elapsed since drinking began and ended
  • Amount of food eaten before or during drinking
  • Metabolism
  • Amount, strength, and type of alcohol consumed

In the human body, alcohol is metabolized at a rate between .012% to .015% of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) per hour.

A standard drink is considered one 12 oz. beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine or one 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. If someone was over the legal limit with a BAC of .09%, it would take approximately 2 hours for the average person to metabolize the alcohol in their system.

The answer most people are looking for is “how long after I stopped drinking will I be able to pass a drug screening test.” The answer actually depends on whether the test is a standard test or an EtG. More and more testing clinics run an EtG type test, but not all.

Rather then sharpening up your pencil and getting out your calculator, use our BAC Calculator below.

EtG Test Can Detect Drinking Alcohol 80 Hours After It’s Out of the Body

An Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) type of urine test can detect alcohol consumption up to 80 Hours after drinking stops.

An EtG type of test detects the presence of ethyl glucuronide in the urine. EtG is a direct metabolite the body uses to process alcohol. Its presence in urine may be used to detect alcohol consumption in the past 80 hours.

With an EtG, a positive urine test is still possible 3 to 4 days even after low to moderate drinking.

Helping to Get Alcohol Out of Your System Fast

Alcohol does show up on most drug tests. There is no “magic bullet” or over the counter products for cleansing out the system of alcohol. Here are some things that many people try to accelerate the process although they usually won’t work very well:

  • Drink plenty of pure water, juice & other fluids
  • Take a vitamin B supplement
  • Eat healthy food
  • Exercise

Blood Alcohol Concentration – BAC

When about five percent of absorbed alcohol reaches the kidneys, the body begins actively excreting alcohol through urination.

Additionally, alcohol inhibits production of vasopressin, a hormone that helps conserve body fluids. Without vasopressin to prevent fluid loss, urination increases and the body usually begins excreting alcohol within 20 to 25 minutes of being consumed.

However, determining how long alcohol remains detectable in your urine really depends on how much you drink along with the other factors mentioned above.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Urine System?

How Long Does Alcohol Stay Your Urine System and Liver?

Typically, the liver processes roughly one ounce of alcohol per hour. If you drink more than one ounce within one hour, your blood will contain excess alcohol that the liver is not able to metabolize.

This unprocessed alcohol represents what law enforcement calls your “BAC” or blood alcohol concentration.

While nearly 90 percent of alcohol consumed is metabolized by the liver, the remaining 10 percent is excreted through respiration, perspiration and urine.

Drinking a beer or one mixed drink and then vomiting within a few minutes afterward may stop some alcohol from being absorbed into the blood, but waiting longer than 15 or 20 minutes to throw up will do little or nothing to reduce your blood alcohol concentration.

The Science Behind Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG)

testing for how long alcohol stays in the urine system

Some labs now use a testing method known as “EtG” for discovering how long ago someone metabolized alcohol. “EtG” is an abbreviation for Ethyl Glucuronide.

Ethyl Glucuronide is a biomarker that determines whether the body has metabolized any alcohol recently. If a method known as “EtG” is used to test for the presence of a related chemical, ethyl glucuronide in the urine, the results can determine if alcohol has been ingested within approximately the past 80 to 90 hours.

The “EtG” Urine Alcohol Test detects ethyl glucuronide in the urine, which confirms alcohol ingestion as long as 3 to 4 days prior, or about 80 to 90 hours after the liver metabolizes alcohol.

The EtG test has become known as the “80 hour test” for detecting any amount of consumed ethyl alcohol recently. EtG has emerged as the test of choice for alcohol due to the accuracy of the technology and is now routinely available.

EtG’s presence in urine may be used to detect recent alcohol consumption, even after ethanol is no longer measurable using other methods. The presence of EtG in urine is a definitive indicator that alcohol was ingested recently.

The 4 Primary Factors in Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

There are specific factors affecting BAC. Here are the 4 primary issues that will determine BAC.

1. Gender Type

The reason gender is a key factor is men  have a higher percentage (.58) of water weight than women (.49) by almost 10%. That means a woman’s BAC will be higher since BAC is based on converting water into the amount of blood in their body.

2. Body Weight

How much someone weighs is a primary factor because blood alcohol content (BAC) is a function of “grams of ethanol in 100 milliliters of blood”. So, the more someone weighs the higher volume of blood there is in their body.

3. How Much Alcohol Was Consumed

The more alcohol someone drinks, the more alcohol your body needs to metabolize. Generally speaking, for most BAC tests, beer is figured as 4.5% – 5% alcohol, wine is figured using a 5 oz glass and hard liquor (shots & mixed drinks) are figured using 1.5 oz. at 80 proof.

Time Period of Drinking

The human body starts to metabolize alcohol as soon as the person starts to drink. In theory, if you drank at a rate of approximately .015% BAC per hour, your BAC would stay at zero.

Debunking The Myths of Sobering Up Quickly

There are many myths about ways to sober up quickly or get alcohol out of the system or urine. Here are some of the most common myths…

  • Speeding up metabolism of alcohol by drinking coffee or taking cold showers won’t work. Only time can reduce BAC
  • Even if you drank 24 hours ago, a breathalyzer test could show you are drunk, or at least have enough alcohol remaining in the system to be considered under the influence
  • Drinking the night before and then “sleeping it off” doesn’t mean you’ll pass a BAC test
  • Drinking water while drunk won’t make you drunker. In fact, drinking water can help dilute the amount of alcohol saturating body tissues and expedite excretion of alcohol through urine and perspiration.
  • Alcohol detox is an entirely different process than naturally eliminating alcohol from the body. Alcoholics needing detoxification should enter a medically supervised program due to health complications arising from the body’s strong dependence on alcohol
  • Aside from suffering a “hangover,” occasional drinkers will not suffer the serious symptoms of abstaining from alcohol that alcoholics endure. The severity of alcohol detox symptoms also means that long-time alcohol abusers should never try to go “cold turkey” alone. Not only is this dangerous but sudden abstinence will not eliminate alcohol from the body any faster than a professional alcohol detox program.

Breathalyzer Alcohol Test

  • Breathalyzers detect alcohol in the blood within the past 24 hours of drinking

Saliva Test

  • An ethyl glucuronide (saliva) test can detect traces of alcohol in the body up to 12 days after drinking

Hair Follicle Test for Alcohol

  • Hair follicle testing for alcohol is the most precise and can detect alcohol in your system three months after ingesting alcohol. Detecting whether there is any ethanol in someone’s urine can be a very important determination

Calculate How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Urine System

This BAC Calculator will approximately detect how long alcohol stays in your system. It is a fast, simple method to determine approximately what someone’s BAC might be at the end of a period of drinking.

It will also immediately calculate the approximate amount of time it might take for that level of blood alcohol concentration to drop to zero. The “BAC  Calculator” is easy to use.


 How The Human Body Metabolizes Alcohol

There are many factors which effect the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in someone’s body who has been drinking. BAC is the answer to this equation; total number of grams of ethanol in 100 milliliters of blood.

Once alcohol reaches the stomach, hydrogenase starts breaking down alcohol molecules, which facilitates metabolization by the body’s tissue and organs, specifically the liver.

In addition, women present even higher blood alcohol levels compared to men just before menstruation since they also have lower percentages of water and higher percentages of alcohol-retaining fat cells.

Absorption rate factors involving gender indicate that a man weighing 140 pounds who consumes two drinks in one hour will have a lower blood alcohol level (BAC) than a 140-pound women who drinks the same amount of alcohol in the same amount of time.

This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that men possess higher levels of the enzyme hydrogenase. Also, men have a higher amount of water in their bodies than women.


Two enzymes control alcohol metabolism:

  1. Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)
  2. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)

Geneticists have discovered that both ALDH and ADH are encoded by various genes in different forms.

Which ALDH or ADH allele an individual carries will exert a strong influence on how long alcohol stays in their system as well as their risk for becoming an alcohol abuser.

Food Digestion

When someone eats prior to, or while they are drinking alcohol, stomach enzymes will fixate on digesting food instead of processing alcohol.

This action delays infiltration of alcohol into the bloodstream, which means their BAC tends to peak between 60 minutes to six hours after consuming their last drink.

Alternately, people who drink on an empty stomach will have a peak blood alcohol level within 30 minutes to two hours of taking their last drink.

In many cases, high-protein foods seem to delay processing of alcohol more than non-protein foods.

Individual Metabolism Rate

Some people have quicker baseline metabolism rates than others, a trait making then better equipped to process and eliminate alcohol.

While metabolism is partly influenced by genetics, it is also partly controlled by lifestyle choices, stress levels, sleep and physical activity.

Faster metabolisms correlate with people having healthy amounts of body fat and lean mass.

Medication Ingestion

Some prescription and non-prescription medications may inhibit processing of alcohol by interfering with enzymatic activity.

Antidepressants, cold/flu medications, and sedatives may cause faster absorption of alcohol in the small intestines, which expedite higher BACs and lengthen the time alcohol remains detectable in the body.

Illness and Disease

People drinking alcohol while suffering an illness or disease that dehydrates the body often leads to alcohol that stays in their system longer than if they were not ill.

Besides dehydration leading to reduced enzymatic activity, lack of sufficient water in the body interferes with the ability of the liver to degrade and eliminate alcohol.

Taking medications while ill may further increase the amount of time alcohol remains detectable in body tissues, blood and urine.

Contrary to belief, drinking excessive amounts of water or other hydrating fluids does not speed up the elimination of alcohol from the body.

The liver is primarily responsible for metabolizing and eliminating alcohol from the body so that it is not detectable in the blood, urine or tissues.

Legally Speaking

From a legal standpoint, knowing whether or not someone has been drinking alcohol can determine someone’s ability to act in a responsible fashion.

It is against the law to operate motor vehicle while under the influence of a certain percentage of alcohol. The amount of alcohol in a person’s body is known as their “blood alcohol concentration” (BAC).

Even a small amount of alcohol, such as a few beers can impair reaction time, coordination and good judgement. The legal BAC limit in all 50 states is 0.08%, except Utah which is now 0.05%.

Video – How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Urine

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In the System

Articles About Passing An Alcohol Test

For further reading, here are some helpful articles about how to pass an alcohol test and how urine tests work.

Can You Pass an EtG Test After Drinking?

How to Pass an Alcohol Urine Test

How to beat a DUI urine test

Why Urine Tests Are the Least Reliable DUI Chemical Test

A New Injectable Sensor Monitors Alcohol Use in Real Time