Shots of tequila, lime slices, and salt on a cutting board

How Many Tequila Shots Do You Need To Get Drunk?

Shots of tequila, lime slices, and salt on a cutting board

Tequila is one of the most famous spirits in the bar. As much as tequila shots amp up people, taking too many is dangerous. You’re bound to be intoxicated and may suffer worse conditions. So, how many shots can you have before you get drunk?

On average, a person can get drunk after two or three tequila shots. Anything beyond this number can be fatal to the drinker. However, other factors can contribute to how quickly a person gets drunk, such as age, sex, and weight.

If you want to maintain a balanced relationship between your health and your love for tequila, this post is for you.

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How Much Is A Shot Of Tequila?

Shot Glass On Gold Background

A shot glass measures differently depending on the country. In the United States, shot glasses are available in one to two ounces, but the most common measurement and is treated as the standard is 1.5 fluid ounces.

Similarly, tequila's alcohol by volume (ABV) also varies from country to country. Generally, it ranges from 35%-55% ABV, but in the US, the minimum, often the most common, is 40% or 80 proof.

Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health defines a standard drink to have 14 grams or 0.6 fl. oz. of pure alcohol. This amount is present in a 1.5-oz. serving of any hard spirit with 40% ABV. It is equivalent to a can (12 oz.) of a 5% ABV beer and one glass (5 oz.) of a 12% ABV wine. 

How To Compute the ABV Of A Tequila Shot

Different Colored Tequila Bottles

The National Institutes of Health reminds us that the standard drink doesn’t necessarily reflect a person’s customary serving size. People may have more than one shot of liquor, which increases the amount of alcohol consumed.

There are two ways to learn how much alcohol is in a shot: by ounce, relative to the total volume, and by density in grams. Let us see how a standard drink has 14 grams or 0.6 oz. of alcohol using the formulas:

  • Pure alcohol mass (grams) = Volume (ml)   x  ABV (%)  x  Volume Mass Density (g/ml)
  • Total Alcohol in Beverage (ounces) = AVB (%)   x   Total Volume (oz.)

The volume mass density of ethanol is 0.78945 g/ml, which is a constant number in the equation. For the first formula, we need to convert the volume of the alcohol from oz. to ml first. So, 1.5 oz is equivalent to 44.3603 ml.

  • Pure alcohol mass = 44.3603 ml  x   40% ABV   x   0.78945 g/ml  = 14 grams

For the second formula, we don’t need to convert the volume into ml.

  • Total Alcohol in Beverage = 40%   x   1.5 oz.  = 0.6 ounces

Now we’ve put things into perspective, we can compute using a different ABV. We’ll retain the same serving size for a better comparison. So, if you have a shot (1.5 oz.) of a 35% ABV tequila, here is the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed:

  • Pure alcohol mass = 44.3603 ml  x   35% ABV   x   0.78945 g/ml  = 12.26 grams   OR
  • Total Alcohol in Beverage = 35%   x   1.5 oz.  = 0.525 ounces

Alternatively, if the tequila is 55% ABV and you’ve taken one shot (1.5 oz.), the amount of alcohol is:

  • Pure alcohol mass = 44.3603 ml  x   55% ABV   x   0.78945 g/ml  = 19.26 grams   OR
  • Total Alcohol in Beverage = 55%   x   1.5 oz.  = 0.825 ounces

With these computations, it can be said that the more you drink and the higher the tequila’s ABV, the more alcohol you consume, and the faster you’ll become drunk.

If you have taken more than one shot, just multiply the resulting amounts by the number of shots you’ve taken to get the total alcohol you’ve consumed.

How To Take A Tequila Shot

People Doing Tequila Cheers

When you’re in a bar or a party, you’ll probably see a tray of tequila shots accompanied by salt and lime or lemon wedges.

It is a popular drink of choice because it involves a routine and a crowd of people cheering on the people taking the shot. It is even considered a rite of passage for new 21-year-olds and novice drinkers. If you are either of these people, here’s how to take a tequila shot:

  1. Prepare the ingredients. You’ll need a shot glass filled with tequila, a lime or lemon wedge, and salt. 
  2. Dampen the part at the back of your hand between the thumb and index finger by licking it or rubbing it with water. This will keep the salt stay in place when it’s poured. 
  3. Put a pinch of salt onto the dampened area. 
  4. Lick the salt from your hand. This will help reduce the burning sensation from the tequila. 
  5. Immediately shoot or drink the tequila in one go. 
  6. Follow up by sucking on the lime or lemon. This will also help mellow out the strong alcohol and balances the flavors.

If it’s your first time taking shots, you’ll most likely feel overwhelmed and scrunch your face. But once you get acclimated, you’ll learn to appreciate the taste more and enjoy the party. 

Some people say that higher quality tequilas are best sipped, and inexpensive tequilas are reserved for shots. That’s why they’re taken with salt and lime to improve the flavor. 

But, one may still opt to shoot a 100% agave tequila with the salt and lime if they don’t want to feel the full force of the alcohol burn.

Factors That Affect a Person’s Drunkenness

Factors That Affect a Person’s Drunkenness

Aside from the alcohol’s ABV and serving size, people can get drunk depending on the following factors:

    • Weight and Height - People who are short and thin are more likely to get drunk faster than tall and big people.

Alcohol travels throughout the body via the water in the bloodstream. If a small and a big person consumed the same amount of alcohol, the former would have the alcohol less diluted than the latter since he/she has less water and blood in the body.

    • Age - As time passes, people will have more fat than muscle in their bodies and, consequently, less water. This causes a slower rate of breaking down and eliminating the 

In general, an older person may have a higher concentration of alcohol than a younger person, even if they consumed the same amount of alcohol.

    • Sex - Women are more probable to get drunk faster than men for a couple of reasons. First, women are generally smaller than men and have a higher fat content. So, using the logic of weight, they have less water in their bodies, allowing the alcohol to be less diluted. 

Second, females have fewer enzymes that break down alcohol called alcohol dehydrogenase than men, causing the alcohol to remain in their bloodstream longer and affect their organs.

    • Ethnicity/Genes - Some people inherit variations of the gene of enzymes that metabolize alcohol. These genetic mutations may cause less efficient metabolization of alcohol, and trigger an alcohol flush reaction, a form of alcohol intolerance.

This situation is common in East Asians and some Native Americans, wherein their cheeks turn red, and they become nauseated and have a fast heartbeat after drinking.

These consequences can be unpleasant to the drinker. But it can lead them to stop taking any more drinks, and in turn, have lower risks of alcohol-related health problems.

    • Time interval between shots - As a standard, the body can metabolize one standard drink of alcohol, or in this case, one shot of tequila, in one hour.

Should you choose to drink two or three shots consecutively within an hour, your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) will increase, causing you to get drunk faster.

    • Food consumption - If you drink alcohol with a full stomach, you will be less likely to get drunk quickly. This is because food, which contains fat, carbohydrates, and proteins, stays longer in the stomach, blocking the alcohol from entering the intestines quickly.

Consequently, it slows down the alcohol absorption rate into the blood. That’s why some people prefer to eat a heavy meal before drinking, so they will less likely feel the effects of impairment quickly.

    • Sleep Quality - When you’re sleep-deprived, you can get more intolerant to alcohol. If you only have about five hours of sleep or less, you’ll normally wake up tired, and when you drink a shot of alcohol, it will feel like drinking the actual amount thrice.

This can happen even though the BAC level is low. One standard drink can enhance a person’s exhaustion, making them less active.

    • Medication - Since the liver is also responsible for metabolizing most drugs, drinking alcohol while on medication may alter how your body reacts to alcohol.

Medicines like painkillers, antianxiety, antidepressants, and antihistamines may hasten the effects of intoxication or increase your BAC.

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How Much Tequila To Get Drunk?

People drinking tequila over a table of food

In the United States, a person is “legally drunk” if their BAC is 0.08% or higher. This percentage indicates how much alcohol there is per 100 ml of blood. So 0.08% means 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood.

Some people will start to feel the effects of the alcohol at 0.05%. If they reach 0.08%, they will start to be impaired in speech, balance, vision, hearing, judgment, and self-control.

A person can determine their BAC using a breathalyzer or a BAC calculator if they want to factor in their weight, sex, and consumption rate.

Since we’ve already established the factors that affect how fast a person gets drunk, we can only estimate how many shots it will take them to the 0.08% BAC level.

Generally, it takes two to three standard shots of tequila, consumed within an hour, for an average person to be drunk. If they weigh 100-150 lbs, two to three shots may be enough to go beyond 0.08%.

Some people, especially those who weigh 160-200+ lbs, tend to have high alcohol tolerances and may only get drunk after four to seven shots taken in one hour.

Furthermore, your BAC will increase 90 seconds after taking the shot, and you will start to feel tipsy about 15-30 minutes after consuming the shot. So, if you drink more shots within 30 minutes, your body will feel the effects of alcohol quicker.

If you don’t want to feel drunk very quickly, we suggest pacing yourself when taking shots.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In The Body?

Friends drinking tequila at the table

The liver is the principal organ that removes 90% of alcohol from a person’s body. The remaining alcohol is excreted in the urine, sweat, and breath; the last one is why breathalyzers detect alcohol.

The liver metabolizes alcohol at a constant rate of one standard drink per hour. The more and faster you drink, the more alcohol is accumulated in your blood and the longer the liver can entirely break down the alcohol.

In general, a person stays drunk for up to six hours. But alcohol can still be detected for a longer period, depending on the type of test. Alcohol is detectable in the blood for up to six hours, in the breath, saliva, and urine for 12-24 hours, and in the hair for up to 90 days.

Still, cases vary from person to person because of the factors discussed above. 

Effects Of Taking Too Many Tequila Shots

Drunk Woman in a Bar

Sometimes, a person gets carried away and may take too many shots of tequila. Being a depressant, alcohol impacts the brain and overall central nervous system, causing a change in a person’s thinking and motion. Here’s what would happen at different BAC levels:

  • 0.02%: Relaxed, but mood may change
  • 0.05%: Euphoric, expressive of feelings without restraint, less attentive, slight vision blur
  • 0.08%: Loss of balance, difficulty speaking, hearing, and seeing, impaired judgment and memory
  • 0.10%: Slow reaction time, poor arm and leg coordination, slurred speech, nausea, delayed cognitive abilities
  • 0.15 -0.29%: Little control over the body, needs assistance to walk, difficulty breathing, mood alterations, vomiting, unsteady emotions, blackouts, disorientation, prone to falling and sleeping
  • 0.30-0.39%: Alcohol poisoning, fainting, no bladder control 
  • 0.40%+:  Coma or possibly death

      In the United States, if people reach a 0.08% BAC (young people and drivers have a lower limit because of their age and line of work, respectively), they are prohibited from driving their vehicles because being impaired poses a danger to themselves and others.

      They may also be penalized for drinking under the influence, which may vary depending on different state laws.

      The least bad consequence of being drunk is a hangover. The worst thing is hurting other people or yourself, especially since intoxication can cause aggressive behavior in some people. That’s why it’s important always to drink responsibly.

      How Much Tequila To Get Drunk FAQ

      Tequila tasting with shot glasses and liquor bottles

      1. How to sober up?

        After a night of taking tequila shots, chances are you’ll have a hangover in the morning, which can last for at most two days.

        It is a common belief that sleeping and drinking water can make a person sober quickly, but this is not entirely true. This is because the metabolization of alcohol occurs at a constant rate, which causes the lowering of BAC levels at a constant rate, too.

        Time is the only thing that gets rid of alcohol entirely from the system. But there are ways to make a person better during a hangover. Sleeping allows them to rest their minds and bodies and have a big chance of waking up feeling better.

        Additionally, you can increase your alert levels by taking a cold shower, drinking coffee, and exercising. You can also indulge in hangover cure drinks or food, including fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, soup, crackers, ginger, toast, and honey. 

        2. What are the best tequila brands for tequila shots?

          Blanco tequila is usually used for taking shots because it is less expensive than Reposado and Añejo. Some of the best Blanco tequila brands for shots are Patron Silver, Casamigos, Teremana, Olmeca Altos Plata, and Espolon. 

          3. Can non-alcohol tequila get you drunk?

            Most non-alcohol spirits, including tequila, have less than 0.5% ABV per bottle. If you take two to seven shots of non-alcoholic tequila, your BAC won’t reach the legally drunk level.

            It takes about 240-320 shots of NA tequila to have the same amount of alcohol as one standard drink of alcoholic tequila. With this, it’s safe to say that you won’t get drunk when drinking non-alcoholic tequila in one sitting.


            The general range of shots that get people drunk is two to three. But, depending on how fast they drink and factors like weight, age, sex, and stomach content, people can be intoxicated with just one shot or more than three.

            As fun as tequila shots are, it’s important to know your limits and pace yourself so you won’t suffer the effects as much.

            What are your experiences when taking tequila shots? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

            Read Next: Healthy Drinks To Order At A Bar

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