At this point, pretty much everyone acknowledges that drunk driving is dangerous and can cause serious injuries. However, many of us assume that since the legal limit for blood alcohol content is set at .08 for drivers, that consuming a small amount of alcohol and getting behind the wheel does not pose a serious risk.
Not so, says a new study that examined data from fatal car accidents. The study looked at 17 years of data involving 570,000 fatal car crashes and determined that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink before getting behind the wheel.
For those who believe that a glass or two of wine is harmless, think again. The study authors found that those with a blood alcohol content of only .01 were as much as 46 percent more likely to cause a fatal car crash than those who had consumed no alcohol. This blood alcohol content is equal to about one drink for an adult man.
The lesson to take from this report is that just because someone has not violated the law and is not held criminally liable for driving under the influence of alcohol, that fact does not mean that they were not impaired. Drivers who cause crashes when they have had any amount of alcohol in their systems should be held accountable in a civil action, which victims or their families may initiate to recover for the damage caused by the crash. This might include damages for the time spent away from work, damage to property, hospital bills, and other things.
Source: NBC San Diego, “Study: “Minimally Buzzed” Drivers Often Cause Fatal Crashes,” Rory Devine, Jan. 18, 2014.