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Whether you drink daily or only drink occasionally, it is vital to understand how much alcohol is actually in a “standard drink.” Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels have different mental and physical effects. Alcohol affects your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. To avoid drunk driving or more serious consequences, you should never drink and drive.

What is a Standard Drink?

In the U.S., a standard drink generally contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Not all alcoholic beverages are created equal. Just because the glass or snifter is smaller, doesn’t mean it has less alcohol in it.

According to the CDC, serving amounts for a drink vary, depending on the type of alcohol. For beer, 12 ounces is a standard drink, as is commonly found in beer bottles. A standard serving of wine is considered to be five ounces, and a “shot” of distilled liquor such as gin, bourbon, whiskey, or rum is 1.5 ounces.

Alcohol Content of Standard Drinks

Ethanol is the part of alcohol that creates intoxication, and different types of alcohol have varying amounts of Ethanol in them.

Alcohol Content of Beer

Considered to be World’s most loved alcoholic drink, beer generally has an alcohol volume of four to five percent. But not all beers are created equal. Craft beers can be much higher in alcohol content—up to as much as 14 percent. When someone orders a pint of craft beer at a local pub or brewery, they are taking in considerably more alcohol than if they were to drink a 12-ounce bottle of regular beer.

Alcohol Content of Wine

Experts say the alcohol content of wine varies, depending on the style and quality. The ABV (Alcohol By Volume) of wine ranges from 5.5 percent to 23 percent. The actual alcohol content of wine should be listed on the label by law.

Alcohol Content of Liquor

Different liquors have different alcohol content. Distilled spirits have higher alcohol volume, ranging from 28 to 32 percent for fruit liquors up to as much as 75 percent for cask strength whiskeys. Liquors such as gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, bourbon, scotch, etc. are often served as a mixed drink, straight or “on the rocks.” Most commonly, distilled spirits are 80 proof. “Proof” is double the amount of ABV, a liquor that has 40 percent alcohol content will be labeled 80 proof.

A single shot of 80 proof liquor is the equivalent of a serving of beer or wine.

Why Standard Drinks?

Standard drinks vary from country to country. In the U.S. a standard alcoholic beverage is considered 14 grams of alcohol, which is about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons, as stated by the NIAAA. In general, our bodies can metabolize a 12-ounce beer without causing stress to the liver. However, a pint of craft beer is more than our bodies can metabolize, which is what leads to intoxication, according to Even if you only consume one standard drink, alcohol impairs your functioning.

In the U.S., the Federal Government issued an appropriations bill that would cut federal funding to any state that did not implement measures to define drunk driving as anyone operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. As a result, most states have set that as the legal limit, however in some areas—and circumstances—harsher penalties can be imposed.

When out with friends for a happy hour, attending a concert, or just at a family member’s house celebrating, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Know your limits, and drink responsibly. The best way to avoid alcohol-related problems is to avoid drinking altogether or to assign a designated driver.

Most states require those who have a drunk driving offense to get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle as a condition of license reinstatement. RoadGuard Interlock devices can help prevent drunk driving and traffic fatalities. Our interlock devices are simple to use, discreet, and easy to set up. We invite you to contact us today to find out how RoadGuard Interlock can ensure you and other drivers remain safe on the road.


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