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Scottsdale  •  Phoenix

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Is Buzzed Driving Really Drunk Driving?

Buzzed driving is considered operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01% to .07% – under the legal limit in most states. Although it is not illegal, buzzed driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

In Arizona and every other U.S. state, the legal limit to drive after drinking is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent. That limit is set by individual states, and it took 21 years for all states to lower the legal alcohol concentration to the current limit. Now, safety experts are questioning whether .08 is low enough.

Study: Minimal Drinking Can Lead to Accidents

One recent study found that the blame for fatal accidents often fell on drivers who were “minimally buzzed.” The term “minimally buzzed” includes drivers who had a BAC of .01, which is well within the legal limit. Researchers examined more than 570,000 fatal accidents between 1994 and 2011. The results: Drinking and driving with any alcohol in the body is dangerous and leads to more severe accidents.

The study focused on drivers with a BAC between .01 and .07 percent. The results showed that drivers with a BAC of .01 percent are 46 percent more likely to be blamed for car crashes than the other drivers involved in the collisions. The higher the BAC, the more often the drivers are blamed.

The lead author of the study, a sociologist at the University of California San Diego, says the results show that no blood alcohol content is low enough to be safe for driving. He thinks the legal BAC in the U.S. should be lowered, based on the study results.

Federal Safety Board Recommends Lowering Legal Limit

The National Transportation Safety Board agrees with the lead author’s position. Last May – months before the study results were published – the federal agency recommended that states lower the legal BAC for driving. It suggests lowering the BAC to .05. According to the NTSB, at .05, some drivers have problems with depth perception. Cognitive abilities are impaired at .07. Changing the standard to .05 could save almost 1,000 lives a year, according to the agency.

In 2017, alcohol impairment was a factor in nearly 29% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 10,874 people! In Arizona, state traffic statistics show there were 320 alcohol-related fatalities and an additional 3,095 alcohol-related injuries in 2017. Twenty-four percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States were alcohol-related.

The NTSB recommendation was criticized by groups representing the restaurant industry. But the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also spoke out against lowered BACs. The founder, who is no longer with the organization, told news outlets that she sees high-BAC drunk driving and distracted driving as bigger problems.

Legal Representation After Losing a Loved One to a Drunk Driving Accident

Regardless of whether lowering the BAC to .05 is the answer, it’s clear that drinking and driving continues to be a major factor in fatal car accidents in Arizona and throughout the U.S. If you have lost a loved one in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident, an experienced attorney can advise you on your options for filing a wrongful death claim that can provide money damages and help hold drunk drivers accountable.

The Phoenix personal injury attorneys at Knapp & Roberts have years of experience representing victims of drunk driving accidents and families of wrongful death victims. With over 50 years of combined experience, the award-winning attorneys of Knapp & Roberts stop at nothing to make sure their clients get the compensation they need and deserve.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.