How drunk is ‘too drunk’ to consent?

University of Leeds
2 min readFeb 7, 2024

‘I’ve had sex while being drunk before, but does consent count if you’re drunk? And if both people are drunk, does it equal it out and make it okay anyway?’

Got a question of your own about consent or sexual violence? Submit your question for expert advice and knowledge.

It’s understandable that questions come up around consent when we’re drunk. So, it’s important to feel confident in our understanding so we can enjoy consensual, safe, fun sex.

Being drunk can impact someone’s ability to consent, however that’s not to say that we can’t consent if we are drunk. What’s important is capacity — being incapacitated doesn’t just mean that someone has ‘passed out’ from drinking. It can also apply if someone is being sick, is unable to walk properly or is acting out of character. When someone is so drunk they are incapacitated, they cannot legally consent to any sexual activity. It’s also important to understand that even if consent was given previously, it doesn’t mean it’s indefinite — our capacity and ability to give consent can change when we’re intoxicated.

A group of students drinking and cheers-ing.

Consent should be given enthusiastically and clearly. Both parties can be drunk and be able to consent, but again, it comes down to the capacity of both of those people. If you have any concerns or worries about someone’s ability to consent because of their alcohol intake (or any other reason!), the best option would be to wait until you’re both sure that everyone has the capacity, freedom and choice to consent and have fun! Read more about how to recognise, remove and respect consent.

You are not alone. If you’ve experienced any kind of violence, abuse, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, we’re here to help. Explore support options in our community, including specialist support offered by the Harassment and Misconduct team here at Leeds.

Written by Lorna De Fenzi, Harassment and Misconduct team