Centre for Road Safety

Sobering up takes a long time

There is no way to speed up the rate your body gets rid of alcohol. While small amounts of alcohol leave your body in your urine, sweat and breath, your liver breaks down most of the alcohol. A healthy liver breaks down less than one standard drink per hour. If your liver is damaged it takes even longer. 

Black coffee, showers, water or food will not work. The only thing that sobers you up is time. After a big night out you may still be over your legal alcohol limit for much of the next day.

After a heavy night of drinking, it can take more than 18 hours for your blood alcohol concentration to get back to zero. Many people are booked for drink driving the next day.



Ben is 19 and holds a P2 licence with a zero alcohol limit. He started drinking at 6pm and had 10 schooners of full strength beer (15 standard drinks) over 6 hours. At midnight his blood alcohol concentration was 0.17. He got a cab home.

It took more than 11 hours before Ben’s BAC was back to zero. The next day Ben was not able to drive his friends to the beach for an early morning surf. He had to wait until almost noon before he could drive.



Melita is 18 and holds a P1 licence with a zero alcohol limit. She started drinking at 10pm and had 6 mixer (9 standard) drinks over 4 hours.  At 2am her blood alcohol concentration was 0.24. She stayed the night at a friend’s house.

It took more than 16 hours before Melita’s BAC was back to zero. Melita had to get her mum to drive her to work that morning. She had to wait until 6pm that night before she could drive.

Plan ahead to get home

Our Getting home safely tips can help you plan ahead to avoid driving if you are affected by alcohol or other drugs. If you plan a big night out drinking, plan not to drive for most of the next day.