Standard Drinks and Alcohol Equivalence: What They Are and Why They're Important

What are standard drinks and why is knowing about them important?

1. What are standard drinks?

A standard drink is:

2. How much alcohol is in a standard drink?

Standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits contains six-tenths of one ounce of alcohol. Alcohol equivalence refers to the fact that standard drinks are equivalent in their alcohol content.

3. Who says that standard drinks all have the same amount of alcohol?

Standard drinks are recognized by health and safety groups that fight alcohol misuse and abuse, including the Nation Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Surgeon General's Office, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Education (DOE), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Alcohol ;and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) (formerly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BASTF), National Consumers League (NCL), National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), American Dietetic Association (ADA), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and others.

4. Why is knowing about standard drinks important?

Understanding that standard drinks contain the same amount of alcohol prevents us from being fooled into thinking that "just having a few of beers" before driving is safer than having a few glasses of dinner wine or a few shots of whiskey or Martinis.

Knowing about standard drinks and alcohol equivalence also helps us understand that there is no drink of moderation, only behaviors of moderation.

And recognizing that standard drinks are all the same to a Breathalyzer can help us avoid driving while impaired or intoxicated. That can prevent us from having trouble with the law, but much more important, it can prevent injuries and save lives.

5. How can I learn more?

The Standard Drinks webpage graphically illustrates the facts of standard drinks and provides other useful information about alcohol equivalence and other alcohol and drinking matters.


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