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Studies Reveal That Many DUI-Related Accidents Occur Below the BAC Level of .08%

Most states have a blood-alcohol content threshold of 0.08% for adults to determine alcohol intoxication. One exception is Utah, which lowered the threshold to 0.05% for adults in 2018. For minors, it depends on the state, but many have zero-tolerance laws and BACs of as low as 0.01% could be considered for DUI charges. Many other states have considered enacting lower BAC thresholds, including New York and California, though the legislation has yet to be passed in other states. According to new studies, many car crash fatalities involve blood-alcohol levels that are lower than 0.08%, as Health Day reports. 

A new study has found that about 15% of alcohol-related deaths in the United States involve drivers with blood-alcohol levels of below 0.08%. Researchers painstakingly analyzed 16 years of motor vehicle crash data. The results were that 37% of the over 600,000 motor vehicle deaths involved at least one driver with alcohol in their blood. 

15% of the cases involved a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration of under 0.08%. 55% of the deaths in those cases involved someone other than the driver who had been drinking. 

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have recommended reducing the BAC limit to 0.05%. 

Dr. Robert Glatter, who is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, wasn’t involved with the research. However, he’s seen the consequences of driving with a raised BAC firsthand. He advocates for lowering the BAC limits to 0.05% or even 0.03%. 

Impairment can begin at BACs of this level, but most research remains focused on the threshold of 0.08%. 

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