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I know that a driver’s blood alcohol level does not have to be .08 in order for his ability to drive to be impaired. What is a safe blood alcohol level for drivers?

In Wisconsin and in the rest of the United States, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. But there is nothing magical about .08. A driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely may be impaired by a much lower level of alcohol. Recent research shows that there may be no safe level of alcohol in the bloodstream when it comes to driving.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego found that a BAC as low as .01 percent can increase accident risk by 46 percent. This means even drivers who are “just buzzed” are more likely to be at fault for a Wisconsin car crash.

The researchers used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database to analyze 570,731 fatal collisions that occurred between 1994 and 2011. They looked for accidents in which there was a clear indicator of who was at fault for the crash. For example, driving through a red light or driving on the wrong side of the road would be an indicator of blame. They also obtained BAC measurements for each driver involved in a crash.

The researchers were surprised by their findings. Even at the lowest level, a BAC of .01 percent, drivers were 46 percent more likely to cause an accident than a sober driver. An average-sized man would have a BAC of .01 after drinking just half a beer. As BAC increased, so did the likelihood of causing a crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board has asked states to lower the legal BAC to 0.05 percent, the legal limit in many European countries. The authors of the study believe that the legal limits should be even lower. They urge anyone who has been drinking to avoid driving.

If you have been injured by an impaired driver, you have a right to compensation. Learn more about your rights in our book, The Ultimate Guide For Automobile Accident Victims. Call Hupy and Abraham at 800-800-5678 to request your free copy.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham