The Myth of “Sobering Up” Lands Many With DUIs

Drunk drivingMost of us have experienced a time when we became more impaired by alcohol than we intended. An extra glass of wine at dinner, or just one more beer at happy hour can put you further over the edge than you may even realize. Many myths exist about techniques to “sober up” enough to drive, but do any of these methods actually work?

Myths or Methods?

A quick Google search could result in hundreds of such suggestions, but let’s examine the most popular “sober up” techniques.

Drinking coffee or other energy drinks – No.


This method is one of the most popular, likely because of media portrayals. Every time you see a drunk guy on a television show trying to sober up, he will invariably be drinking several cups of black coffee. Coffee does not help your body metabolize alcohol, so drinking it (even black) will have no effect on your impairment level. Not only does this method not work, it may actually be more detrimental than you think. Coffee will convince you that you are not as impaired as you are by masking the effects of alcohol and making you feel more alert, falsely leading you to believe that you are fine to get behind the wheel.

Eating a big meal, bread, or carbohydrates – No.


Eating a big meal before drinking may slow the absorption of alcohol into your system, which may mean it will take longer for alcoholic beverages to affect you, but simply eating a big meal after you have already become impaired will not be enough to sober you up.

Drinking water – No.


This might make you feel better in the morning by counteracting the dehydration effects of alcohol, but it will not cause your body to process alcohol faster.

Taking a cold shower – No.


Like coffee, this method may leave you slightly more alert for a short period of time because of the shock of cold water, but the effect is short-lived and has no effect on the rate your body metabolizes alcohol.

Putting breath mints, pennies, or anything else under your tongue – No.


Breathalyzers work by using chemical reactions between the alcohol in your breath and other compounds, so altering the smell of your breath will not alter the BAC of your body.

Waiting a few more minutes – No.


It takes a human body roughly one hour to process one ounce (or one standard drink) of alcohol, and can be even longer for smaller people or women, who process alcohol differently than men. A few minutes will make little to no difference in your impairment level. In some cases, a few more minutes may even result in a higher level of impairment. If you take a few shots or finish an entire beer in a few minutes just before last call, it will take time for those last drinks to catch up with you. In the next 20 to 30 minutes, those drinks have just begun to affect your body, which means you may be more impaired an hour later than you were when you left the bar.

Waiting a really long time (or “sleeping it off”) – Yes, eventually.


This is the only way to ensure that all of the alcohol you consumed has been metabolized by your body and is out of your system. How long it will take depends on how much you had to drink, your body size, and your body’s ability to process alcohol. Since an average body metabolizes only one drink per hour, it is best to play it safe and avoid driving until the next morning when you are positive that there is no more alcohol in your system and you have been able to get a full night’s rest. Unfortunately, many people believe the above methods well enough to trust that they can get behind the wheel, but this is a recipe for disaster. The only thing that will sober you up is time.

DUI Help

If you are have been charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland, the sooner you seek legal help, the more likely you are to avoid a drunk driving conviction and keep your driver’s license. Contact the experienced DUI attorneys at the office of Alpert Schreyer, LLC at 866-444-6363 or contact us online for a confidential and free consultation to discuss your case today.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.