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California Drunk Driving Crashes: The Impact of a Lower BAC

December 31, 1969

Currently, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level for drivers throughout the nation is .08 percent. That could soon change if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) gets its way. The federal agency is looking to lower the BAC level for all drivers. The aim is to get the level dropped from .08 or .05, which many believe is a level at which driver's vision can be affected.

Our Los Angeles accident lawyers understand that close to 10,000 people are killed each year in alcohol-related traffic accidents. In addition to that, more than 150,000 are injured. And these are all completely preventable. Yes, this is a big improvement from the 20,000 who were killed annually about 30 years ago, but we've still got a long way to go.

According to recent studies, about 4 million people are driving under the influence each year.

While we may be all for lowering the legal BAC level for drivers, there are some restaurant trade groups who aren't as happy.

"Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior," said Sarah Longwell with the American Beverage Institute.

Many are arguing that this lower level isn't going to do anything to stop the hardcore drunk drivers, or the ones who are repeat offenders. And many say it's those drivers who are the real problem.

Currently, the U.S., Canada and Iraq are among a very limited number of countries that have their legal limit set at .08. Most other countries have their legal limit set at .05.

Australia was one of the countries to drop from a .08 to a .05. With that, there was reportedly a near 20 percent decrease in the number of traffic accident fatalities.

What many safe driving advocates believe is that a driver's depth perception and a number of other visual functions start to suffer once a driver hits a .05 BAC. According to studies, your risks for an accident increase by close to 40 percent with a .05 BAC, whereas your risks increase by more than 100 percent when you have a .08.

Officials predict that if every state were to drop the legal BAC limit, then close to 1,000 lives would be saved each and every year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 1,000 people killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in the state of California in 2011. An average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 53 minutes in 2011.

Alcohol and/or drugs can seriously impair your judgment. Impaired judgment or good sense affects how you react to sounds and what you see -- especially when you're behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. It's also dangerous to walk in traffic or ride a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The bottom line is that someone who has not been drinking should drive. Never get behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.

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