According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “everyday, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 52 minutes. In 2019, these deaths reached the lowest percentage since 1982 when NHTSA started reporting alcohol data — but still 10,142 people lost their lives. These deaths were all preventable. Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher). In every state, it’s illegal to drive drunk, yet one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in the United States in 2019.”
Why .08? – The Consequences of Not Adhering to the Mandated Blood Alcohol Level
If you are a driver and are somewhat aware of U.S driving regulations, you know that in most states, anyone driving under the influence of alcohol cannot exceed the .08 blood alcohol concentration. What you may not be as informed about is the reason behind the decision to set .08 as the blood alcohol intake limit in most U.S states with the exception of Utah where the maximum is .05. The effects of certain blood alcohol concentrations on the body are thoroughly explained in a chart shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In it, we see that at a .02 BAC, individuals will experience some loss of judgement, relaxation, slight body warmth and altered mood, while drivers will feel a decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target) and a decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention), at .05 BAC, individuals will experience a potential loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgement, and lowered alertness among other things. Drivers will feel reduced coordination, ability to track moving objects and response to emergency driving situations, and difficulty steering. Finally, at .08 BAC, balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing become poor, danger detection decreases, processing capability and reasoning and memory are impaired.
This slow increase from .02 to .08 blood alcohol concentration and the steady journey through its effects on the human body, shows why driving under the influence even with a .02 BAC poses a risk, and how that risk increases to very dangerous levels with a .08 BAC. This is why those who drive while with .08 BAC or beyond, where there’s a clear deterioration of response time and ability to drive much less to drive safely, are so harshly persecuted by the law. If you have been personally affected, be it through the loss of a loved one or emotional devastation due to the negligence of another party and need experienced counsel to guide you through the legal process, we recommend you contact a personal injury attorney in Traverse City, Michigan at the Neumann Law Group at (231) 221-0050.