Study Suggests Lowering BAC Limit.

A recent study by University of San Diego sociologists David Phillips and Kimberly Brewer found that blood alcohol levels below the legal limit of .08% are still a factor in the severity of injuries resulting from traffic collisions. The study was reported in the journal "Addiction". The authors reviewed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which includes information on all U.S. people involved in fatal car accidents. The study concluded that people are more likely to suffer severe injury when alcohol was involved, even trace amounts of .01%. The authors stated that "compared with sober drivers, buzzed drivers are more likely to speed, more likely to be improperly seat-belted and more likely to drive the striking vehicle, all of which are associated with greater severity". A person found guilty of DUI involving serious personal injury faces State Prison time for a Felony in Los Angeles.

Phillips stated that they hoped that the report would influence legislators in efforts to lower the legal BAC limits even more.

I have not reviewed the study itself, but I would question its scientific value as the authors are sociologists, not scientists and the report was published in a journal called "Addiction" which tends to suggest an anti-alcohol bias. The authors appear to have an agenda in influencing legislators to reduce the BAC limit to below .08%.

There may be many factors that would influence the severity of injuries resulting from a traffic collision, including weather conditions, time of day and resultant fatigue, experience level of drivers, geographic location, local driving conditions, and last, but not least, dumb luck. This is not to suggest that alcohol does not play a part in the causation of accidents. Horrific injuries and death may result from people drinking and driving. However, it is a stretch to suggest that people driving with blood alcohol levels of .01% are more likely to cause accidents resulting in more serious injuries than people who are alcohol free. I have yet to meet a toxicologist who would agree that an adult is impaired to drive at a .01% blood alcohol level. Some State toxicologists will testify inDUI jury trials in Los Angeles and Orange County that most people are impaired at above a .05% but there is no sound evidence for this.

Given the propensity of politicians to use DUI drivers and DUI laws in California as an easy way to score points with voters, it may be a matter of time before the legal limit is reduced to below .08%.

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