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Study suggests blood-alcohol limits linked to more car accidents

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2020 | Car Accidents |

When there is an auto accident in California, factors that are increasingly common are distraction, recklessness and speed. Historically, however, drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs are inherently dangerous. Because drunk or drugged driving negatively impacts reaction time, judgment, the ability to stay alert and more, car accidents with injuries and fatalities are common due to this issue. Researchers assess various factors related to these collisions and seek strategies to make the roads safer. One recent study considered the legal amount of alcohol a person can have in the system before being charged with DWI.

In a report from the Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers found that the legal level for blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) might be too high. In the study, many crashes occurred with the driver having alcohol in the system, but the amount was lower than the general BAC level to warrant an arrest of 0.08%. More than 50% of the fatalities in these accidents killed someone other than the driver who had been drinking. In addition, those who had a BAC level under 0.08% led to more youth deaths when compared to accidents with drivers who surpassed that level.

A co-author in the study said that the chance of a crash rises once the BAC level hits 0.02%. The level 0.08% is not based on safety and preventing auto accidents. It is a legal level for law enforcement and prosecutors to use as a baseline for arrests and prosecution. This is not connected to accident frequency, injuries and death from the collisions. Other countries around the world have the legal level lower than the United States.

There are states in the union that have a lower limit. Statistically, they had fewer fatal accidents than states with the common threshold. There were more than 12,000 road deaths in which a driver had a measurable BAC in 2017. To come to their conclusions, researchers looked at the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2000 to 2015. Thirty-seven percent of the more than 600,000 deaths had drivers where there was alcohol in the system. Fifteen percent involved a driver who was not legally drunk, but had alcohol in the system.

The researchers make it a point to say that not all DUI accidents are equal. Still, any amount of alcohol can impact safe driving practices. It is impossible to know whether the accidents that happened with drivers who had less than the legal limit in the system would have happened regardless. Experts believe that any amount of alcohol can lead to impairment.

Car accidents can have serious consequences for those who were involved. Medical expenses from hospitalizations and treatment, the inability to work, a loss of contribution to a family and more can spark dramatic life changes. If there is a death, the family left behind must think about how they will move forward in a personal and emotional way. That does not mention making ends meet and funeral costs. Assessing the entire scope of the incident includes whether the other driver was under the influence and how much alcohol was in the system. This can be a critical part of a successful lawsuit. A law firm that understands how to investigate car accidents and pursuing a claim may be able to help with a case.