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Does Coffee Help Sober You up After Drinking Alcohol?

Coffee does not help you sober up after drinking. The caffeine in coffee can act as a stimulant to make you feel better or more alert but it does not improve the physical effects of drinking alcohol, like reduced hand-eye coordination. Unfortunately, the best cure-all after having too much to drink is simply time.

After having too much to drink, instead of trying to speed up the sobering process, it may be better to call it a day and get a taxi or use a ridesharing app. Relying on stimulants to make you feel more alert can make it harder to tell how impaired you might be by alcohol, giving you a false sense of increased sobriety, and possibly leading to getting pulled over.

If you were arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving in the East Bay, contact the experienced California DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

What are the effects of coffee after drinking alcohol?

Coffee and caffeine does not have any significant effect on how the body processes alcohol. As a stimulant, the caffeine in coffee may make the individual feel more awake or energetic but it does not affect how the body reacts to alcohol. Effects of alcohol consumption may include:

  • Reduced hand-eye coordination,
  • Lack of focus,
  • Slowed reaction time,
  • Impaired balance, and
  • Impaired judgment.

According to lab tests, after drinking alcohol, hand-eye coordination and other motor skills are not improved by drinking coffee. The Discovery channel television show Mythbusters even tested their version of whether drinking coffee can help sober a person up and concluded that the answer was “a resounding ‘no.'”

But when I'm drunk, I feel more alert after drinking coffee.

Drinking coffee, or other caffeine drinks, may make you feel more alert but alert is not the same as sober. Caffeine is a stimulant and could actually have the more harmful effect of making a person feel more sober leading them to getting behind the wheel before actually sobering up.

Even if a driver claims to feel more awake after drinking coffee, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will be the same regardless of drinking coffee. A BAC at 0.08% or higher in California is a per se DUI, no matter how “sober” the driver feels.

Again, the only real “trick” to sobering up is playing the waiting game. Over time, your body will break down the alcohol and the effects of alcohol on the brain and body will begin to wear off.  

How does your body break down alcohol?  

After drinking, the alcohol is absorbed into the body through the stomach and intestines. When it enters the bloodstream, it can affect a number of organs, including the brain, kidneys, heart, and liver. Factors that can impact how quickly the alcohol is absorbed include whether the alcohol is carbonated, concentration of alcohol, and amount of food in the stomach.

Most alcohol is processed through the liver. The enzymes (alcohol dehydrogenase or ADH) in the liver break down the alcohol into acetaldehyde. Another enzyme further breaks down the acetaldehyde into acetate, which is then metabolized and leaves the body as carbon dioxide. The remaining alcohol may pass through the body through sweat, breath, and urine.  

The liver can process about 1 drink per hour but this rate can vary greatly depending on the person. There are number of things that affect how quickly your body breaks down alcohol. These factors include age, sex, liver size, genetics, body mass, and amount of alcohol consumed.

Will drinking water or eating food after drinking help?

Drinking plenty of water and consuming nutritious foods before, during, and after drinking can help reduce the effects of a hangover. Getting plenty of rest can also help. However, this will generally reduce the negative impact of drinking too much but will not speed up the breakdown of alcohol.

DUI Defense by East Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of DUI experience and understands how difficult it can be for drivers to gauge whether they are sober enough to drive home after drinking. If you were arrested for a DUI in Contra Costa County or Alameda County, contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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