This Is How Long It Really Takes To Get Alcohol Out Of Your System

If you've ever had a quick drink with colleagues or friends after work, you may have wondered how long you have to wait before it's safe for you to drive home. How long alcohol stays in your system depends on what you drink, how much you drink, and how fast your body metabolizes alcohol (via Cleveland Clinic).

"Alcohol metabolism time depends on the volume and strength of the drink," hepatologist Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming told the Cleveland Clinic. "The more you drink, the more your body has to process. And the concentration matters. Two ounces of spirits contain much more alcohol than two ounces of wine."

The speed at which alcohol is metabolized also varies from person to person and can be affected by a number of important factors, including age, weight, sex, medications, and health conditions. Generally speaking, however, it can take up to six hours or longer for alcohol to leave your bloodstream (via Greatist).

How long can alcohol be detected on drug tests?

Alcohol can still be detected on drug tests long after you've had your last drink. These tests measure how much alcohol can be detected in your breath, urine, saliva, and hair (via Greatist). For example, breathalyzer tests can detect alcohol on your breath anywhere between 12 to 24 hours after drinking. Breathalyzer tests measure you blood alcohol content (BAC). If you have a BAC of .08 or higher, you are considered legally drunk and it is illegal for you to drive.

Urine tests can also detect alcohol several hours after your last drink. Alcohol can still be detected in your urine for at least 24 hours after drinking. However, studies suggest that more advanced testing can detect alcohol in your body even a few days after drinking. Alcohol metabolites tests, on the other hand, measure the amount of leftover alcohol molecules in your body (via Insider). These tests can detect alcohol in your hair up to three months later.