Drunk driving poses a continued, serious threat to road safety. Intoxicated drivers exhibit reduced concentration, worse reaction times, and impaired coordination, which can all lead to injuries and fatalities.
As a result, many states are now considering following Utah’s example and lowering the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold for drivers. Lowering the BAC threshold from .08% to .05% is a proven way to reduce the number of fatal accidents caused by drunk driving.
If a drunk driver has injured you, Utah drunk driving crash injury attorneys at Great West Law can help you understand your options and get you your rightful compensation.
What Does BAC Mean?
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to how much alcohol someone has in their bloodstream. BAC is measured in percentages. Certain markers for BAC determine an individual’s level of impairment:
- Sober: 0% BAC
- Legally intoxicated: .08% BAC (.05% BAC in Utah)
- Very impaired: .08-.4% BAC. At this level, you may have difficulty walking and speaking, along with confusion, nausea, and drowsiness
- At severe risk: .4%+ BAC. This blood alcohol level can lead to coma or death.
A police officer measures a driver’s BAC with a breathalyzer. Breathalyzers are portable and accurate electronic devices that measure the alcohol content in your breath. BAC can also be measured via urine and blood tests.
What are the Current BAC Rules?
In every state but Utah, driving with a BAC of .08% and over is illegal and is grounds for a DUI. The Clinton administration set the standard in 2000, based on scientific evidence, that drivers become impaired at .08% BAC. Impaired drivers struggle with basic skills like braking, steering, and changing lanes and cannot make judgment calls to protect their safety and the safety of other drivers.
In 2018, Utah became the first state to lower the BAC limit from .08% to .05%. So far it is the only state to do so.
However, recent research has shown that lowering the BAC threshold for drunk driving can save lives. Given these findings, other states will likely follow Utah’s lead in implementing stricter DUI laws.
Benefits of Lowering Federal BAC Standards
Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of lowering the BAC threshold to .05%, and the benefits of a lower threshold are impressive.
A 2007 study found that if every state implemented a .05% BAC level, 538 lives would be saved every year. With this lower limit enforced nationwide, alcohol-related fatalities would decrease by 11.1%.
Related studies found that driving with a .05% BAC increases your risk of a crash. Drivers with a BAC between .08% or higher were seven times more likely to have a previous DUI conviction than drivers who haven’t been drinking. Lowering the threshold from .08% to .05% may help decrease this risk.
Most people in the United States agree with reducing the legal limit for DUIs from .08% to .05% BAC. A 2015 survey found that 63% of people supported lowering the illegal BAC limit.
So How Much Can I Drink?
Several factors affect the amount any specific person can drink while staying within the legal driving limit:
- Height and weight
- Time of last meal
- Number of drinks within a given time
- Drink size
- Type of alcohol consumed
- Mood and energy level
- Other medications
For an average-sized man, consuming two standard drinks in the first hour and one in each subsequent hour will typically lead to a BAC of about .05%. Women need to consume fewer drinks to stay under the legal driving limit since their bodies contain less of the enzyme that helps break down alcohol in the stomach.
Standard drinks are measured in alcohol content, not volume, so the actual amount of liquid you can consume to stay under the legal limit depends on the type of drink. 12 ounces of 5% alcohol beer has the same alcohol content as 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? We Can Help.
If you or someone you know has been injured by an intoxicated driver, there are options for compensation. The experienced car accident lawyers of Great West Law can help determine how much your claim is really worth and get you the money you deserve.
If you are ready to take the next step, call us today or fill out our contact form for a free initial consultation and case review.