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Legal limit fails to prevent thousands of fatal car accidents

Sometimes people assume they are safe to drive even after they have consumed alcohol. This may stem from the fact that it is legal to drive with a blood-alcohol content level below 0.08 percent in California. Research shows, however, that people who test below the legal limit may still be at an increased risk for getting in a car accident.

Drunk driving accidents are linked to approximately 10,000 deaths every year. This means that almost 30 percent of all vehicle fatalities occur because people make the decision to drive while intoxicated. Although this number has significantly decreased in recent decades, the National Transportation Safety Board believes that more can and should be done to increase safety on our roads. They have issued many recommendations to improve safety and lower the number of highway fatalities including lowering the legal limit of blood-alcohol content while driving from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent. 

The current legal limit was adopted by all 50 states after Congress threatened to withhold money from states that would not agree to the national standard in the year 2000. Research shows, however, that when people drive at the current legal limit they are 169 percent more likely to get into a car accident than if they had not been drinking. Driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent, on the other hand, increases the odds of being in a crash by 38 percent.

People who drink and drive may be at an increased risk of injuring those around them, even if they are under the legal DUI limit. If you have been injured in a car accident due to the actions of a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering. A lawyer may be able to help. 

Source: The New York Times, “States Urged to Cut Limit on Alcohol for Drivers,” Matthew L. Wald, May 14, 2013

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