Motorists in California and around the country can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol when they get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, but many road safety advocacy groups and some government agencies believe that the drunk driving threshold should be much lower. Utah has reduced the legal driving limit to .05%, and the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have urged all states to follow suit. The results of a study published recently in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine appear to support this argument.
Drunk driving is a major cause of death in the United States
A research team from Boston Medical Center studied data on more than 600,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents that took place between 2000 and 2015, and they discovered that almost 40% of them involved at least one driver who had been drinking. They also found that about 15% of these motorists had blood alcohol concentrations below the .08% drunk driving threshold. The researchers noticed that the road users killed in these accidents were often young people.
Lower limits and stricter law enforcement reduce fatality rates
When the researchers compared drunk driving accident rates in different parts of the country, they discovered that fatalities were approximately 9% lower in states that enforce drunk driving laws more rigorously. Other studies have revealed that drivers can be dangerously impaired with BACs as low as .03%, which is why many countries have chosen to adopt the .05% standard. Drunk driving injuries and deaths have fallen sharply in these countries according to the researchers.
Holding drunk drivers responsible for their reckless behavior
If you were injured in a car accident caused by a driver impaired by alcohol, experienced personal injury attorneys could file a lawsuit on your behalf seeking compensation for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income and pain and suffering. If the negligent motorist involved had a BAC below California’s .08% legal limit, attorneys may cite studies like this one to establish the dangers of driving after consuming even small quantities of alcohol.