If you have been buying gin or any spirit in a supermarket lately, you can’t have failed to see the shelf space being given over to the non alcoholic version now. Despite their popularity, many people are very new to the sector and have some legitimate questions. One of the big ones is “can you drink non alcoholic gin and drive?”, will you get a DUI?
Just to be clear, i would like to point out that i am not in favour of drinking alcohol and driving. Even if you are just under the legal limit, it is dangerous. You will still be impaired but legally allowed to drive. The safest action is always to abstain from alcohol if you have to drive.
Can you drink non alcoholic gin and drive?
You can drink up to 320 1.5fl oz measures of non alcoholic gin and still be legally allowed to drive if you are an over 21, non commercial driver. The average 160lb adult male would only be legally drunk after drinking 320 measures of non alcoholic gin over a couple of hours so it would be very hard if not impossible to get a DUI after drinking non alcoholic gin.
What is the legal drunk diving limit?
In all states in the USA (except Utah), the legal drunk driving limit is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. Utah have theirs at 0.05%. This is similar to Scotland having a lower level than the rest of the UK.
You will likely never have encountered blood alcohol concentrations so these figures might be meaningless but i will explain all in this article.
Being legally drunk is the same level as to be too drunk to drive a car. The levels are both 0.08 BAC. We can figure out how many measures of gin it takes to get drunk and go from there.
How many measures of alcoholic gin before you cant drive?
If the drunk driving limit is the same as when you are legally drunk then working the numbers out for one, counts for both.
What is a standard measure of gin?
The first thing is figure out what a “standard” gin is. Gin can come is lots of strengths, flavours and even colours so it it hard to say what is standard. Luckily USDA have stated what a standard beer, wine and spirit are. They all have the same amount of alcohol but different volumes and concentrations.
Every standard drink will have 4g of alcohol (0.6 ounces).
|Drink and volume||Alcohol content|
|12fl oz Beer||5%|
|5fl oz Wine||12%|
|1.5fl oz Spirit||40%|
A standard measure of gin is 1.5fl oz and 40% ABV.
The CDC tell us that the average 160lb adult male (is 160lb average by the way?!) needs to drink x4 1.5fl oz glasses of 40% ABV gin (a standard gin) to get drunk. Therefore, you would not be able to drive after 4 standard gins.
These have to be drank over a short period, perhaps 2 hours, because you liver starts to break down the alcohol quickly.
How many measures of non alcoholic gin equal one alcoholic gin?
I have dedicated a full article to this question here, but the headline data is…
A non alcoholic gin has 0.5% alcohol by volume and an alcoholic wine (according to the USDA) has 40% alcohol by volume. You would need to drink 80 measures of non alcoholic gin of the same volume to equal one alcoholic gin of the same volume (in terms of alcohol).
How many measures of non alcoholic gin to get drunk?
If you need to drink 4 standard gins to get drunk and 80 measures of non alcoholic gin equals one standard gin, you therefore need to drink 320 measures of non alcoholic gin to get drunk.
Can you drink non alcoholic gin and drive?
I don’t think i’ve met anyone who might consider ever drinking 320 measures of gin in 2 hours or even over a month! Therefore if you are drinking recreationally with friends or even on your own, you can drink as many measures of non alcoholic gin as you want and drive without risk of a DUI.
The actual amount you would need to drink before you get a DUI is 480fl oz of non alcoholic gin, 3.5 gallons of non alcoholic gin or about 20 bottles of non alcoholic gin. The cost alone would stop anyone.
Anther way to look at it is you will have to drink a 1.5fl oz measure of non alcoholic gin, every 22.5 seconds, for 2 hours, to get drunk.
DUI in special circumstances
Most drivers come under the usual 0.08% BAC ruling (except 0.05% in Utah). however there are certain road users who must have lower blood alcohol levels under the law to be allowed to drive, for a a few different reasons.
A commercial driver must have a BAC of under 0.04% and a level of 0.02-0.04% means they cant drive for 24hrs. This is because of the size of the vehicle they are using.
In all states there are zero tolerance laws meaning anything from 0.00-0.02% can be illegal if you are under 21 (the legal age to drink). The younger the driver is the more likely they are to be involved in a fatal road traffic collision.
To check out all the BAC limits by state, you can see my full article on it here
|Category of driver||Allowable BAC|
|Under 21||Either 0 or <0.02%|
That means they would be able to drink significantly less non alcoholic gin before the possibility of getting a DUI comes into play.
A commercial driver, such as a long distance lorry driver, could “only” drink 160 measures of non alcoholic gin. In reality, on one will even come close to this as it is still 10 whole bottles of non alcoholic gin.
An under 21 driver might be at more risk as they can only be able to have 40 measures non alcoholic gin or even lower and i would recommend if you are in a state that has a 0.00% BAC level for under 21s, to avoid non alcoholic gin at all, just in case.
|Class of driver||Standard drink limit||Non alcoholic wine limit|
|Under 21 ZT||0.5||40|
Minors are allowed to buy and drink non alcoholic drinks but the laws and what shops and retailers practice is different, for good reason. You can read my article on if minors can buy non alcoholic beer here