A standard drink is any drink that contains 10 grams of alcohol. It can be hard to work out standard drinks because different types of drinks contain different amounts of alcohol, are mixed with different ingredients and come in different sized containers.
Sometimes you can tell how many standard drinks your drink contains by looking on the label of the bottle, can or cask. But to be on the safe side, there are special guidelines you can follow.
A middy or pot (285ml) of full-strength beer contains one standard drink.
A schooner of full-strength beer (375ml) contains one and a half.
A 375ml bottle or can of full-strength beer contains 1.5 standard drinks.
A 375ml can of pre-mixed spirits contains 1.5 standard drinks.
A 300ml bottle of alcoholic soda contains 1.2 standard drinks.
A 30ml nip or shot of spirits contains 1 standard drink.
A 700ml bottle of spirits contains 22 standard drinks.
A 170ml serve of champagne contains 1.5 standard drinks.
A 100ml (small) glass of wine contains on standard drink.
A 180ml (large) glass of wine contains 1.8 standard drinks.
A 750ml bottle of wine contains 7 standard drinks.
When you drink alcohol, it’s absorbed from your stomach into your small intestine and then straight into your bloodstream. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the measure of the amount of alcohol in your blood. The legal driving limit for full-licensed drivers is 0.05 per cent. Your BAC depends on several things:
The amount and alcoholic strength of what you drink ;
The time over which you drink ;
Whether you have an empty stomach ;
Your health, especially the health of your liver ;
Your size and build ; and
Whether you are male or female.
Alcohol affects men and women differently. A woman is likely to become intoxicated quicker (reach a higher BAC) than a man after drinking the same amount of alcohol. She is also likely to recover more slowly (have a high BAC for longer).
Alcohol is diluted evenly in body tissue according to the blood supply, and lean body tissue has a better blood supply than fatty tissue. Women’s bodies usually have a higher proportion of fatty tissues than men’s, so any alcohol they drink is distributed in a smaller volume of lean tissue.
BAC is also related to body weight. Women tend to be smaller than men so alcohol is distributed over a smaller amount of body tissue. So this also means that it takes fewer drinks to increase their BAC.
There is a general guide that men and women can follow to ensure that their BAC stays under 0.5.
An average-sized, healthy woman takes approximately one hour to break down the alcohol from one standard drink. She will have a BAC that increases by 0.03 per cent for every standard drink that she consumes. This means that she should have no more than one standard drink every hour.
An average-sized, healthy man also takes approximately one hour to break down the alcohol in one standard drink. But he will have a BAC that increases by only 0.02 per cent for every drink he consumes. That means that he should have no more than two standard drinks in the first hour, and then no more than one every following hour.
Even if you feel okay to drive, if you’ve had more than the recommended amount of drinks, you should never get behind the wheel of a car.