units of alcohol

How much is one unit of alcohol?

All calculations are done for an adult male, weighing approximately 68 kgs, who has eaten a meal.

N.B. This is a rough estimation only, as each person metabolizes alcohol at different rates and times. Women are affected more, quicker, and on smaller amounts of alcohol than men, so need to drink less, and slower than men.

For example, a woman who weighs 45kgs and drinks 1 glass of wine, her Blood Alcohol Content could = 0,045g! If she had not had anything to eat she could be over the legal limit. 1 Unit = 0.02g in 100 ml blood, or 0.10mg per 1000ml in the breath. It takes the body approximately 1 hour or more, to get rid of one unit. (To be precise – 0.015g)



Nothing gets alcohol out of the body except TIME No coffee. No cold showers. No Red Bull. No water. No running around the block.

How much alcohol is in what I drink?

  • Spirit cooler (300ml)  i.e. Hooch / Brutal Fruit = 1.2 to 1.9 units OR 0.02g to 0.035g
  • Cocktail = ±2 to 2.5 (or occasionally even more) units OR 0.04g to 0.05g
  • Quart of Beer (750ml) = 3.3 to 4 units  OR 0.08g blood OR 0.4mg breath
  • Double spirit (50ml) = 2 units OR 0.04g
  • Shooters – e.g. Apple sours = a half unit OR 0.01g
  • 90 mls of 12% white wine (most white wines) = 1 Unit = 0.02g
  • 75 mls of 14% red wine = 1 Unit = 0.02g
  • N.B. Many restaurant glasses are 250 mls, and so red wine comes to 3.3 Units! On 1 glass of red wine everyone is over the Legal Limit! (0.06g)
  • Please note: cans of beer come in different sizes (330ml, 340ml, 440ml, 750ml and now a 500ml. Therefore units of alcohol vary greatly depending on the can/bottle size.
  • SADD requests that alcohol beverage companies print the units of alcohol for each alcoholic drink on the can or bottle to inform consumers.


  • Your driving skills are impaired after even 1 unit, so it is safer not to drink any alcohol at all if you drive.
  • Drink slowly and 1 Unit per hour maximum.
  • Eat before you drink.
  • COUNT YOUR DRINKS! Work out how much you have drunk, and when you will be safe to drive again.
  • The only safe driving is zero alcohol – as even 1 Unit affects drving skills.
  • It does not matter if you are “drunk” or “sober”- any alcohol affects driving skills.

Lite vs Light?

Lite refers to the calorie content of the drink whereas Light refers to the alcoholic content. Therefore, by drinking a beer labelled ‘Lite’, you can easily be over the legal limit. 

How much can you drink?

  • If you drink two 330ml cans of beer in one hour – both men and women will be over the legal limit.
  • If you drink five /ten single Brandy’s, you will only be able to drive safely about 10 hours later.

Think cocktails are a safe choice?

  • Cocktail = ± 2 to 2.5 (or occasionally even more) units OR 0.04g to 0.05g.

Great! Another shot of Intensive care

Mmmmm, another glass of Bloody Tarmac

Darling, how about another Twisted Metal & Broken Bones?


Important tips to keep safe and stay alive.

  • Don’t drink then drive.
  • Stay in control.
  • Remember you don’t have to drink to have a good time.
  • If you are going to drink, then have a DES -Designated driver, or take money for a taxi.
  • Always wear a seatbelt.
  • In S.A., 30% of our deaths in cars would be prevented if they had been wearing a seatbelt.
  • Backseat passengers are often thrown out of the car, seriously injured or killed, when hit by a drunk driver, or the drunk driver has an accident. Wear a seatbelt in the front and back of the car, at all times.
  • It has been illegal since 2003 to not be buckled up in the back of a car if it is equipped with seat belts.
  • Always keep your pets safe when they are travelling with you. They also deserve safety and a seatbelt!