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Buzzed driving increases risk of car accidents

Everyone knows that drunk driving is dangerous. What many people may not realize, however, is that buzzed driving - driving after one or two drinks, with a blood alcohol content of less than the .08 legal limit - is also a significant danger. Indeed, one recently published study indicates that buzzed drivers are far more likely to be at fault for car accidents than sober drivers.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego examined information from a national database that includes data from approximately 570,000 car accidents that occurred in the U.S. between 1994 and 2011. Data from fatal accidents indicates that when it comes to ensuring safe driving, there is no such thing as a safe level of alcohol in a driver's blood.

The authors of the study, which was published in the journal Injury Prevention, specifically examined drivers' measured BAC at the time of their accidents and whether there were clear indicia of blame. Indicia of blame might include, for example, whether one driver had switched lanes unexpectedly or had disobeyed a traffic signal.

Surprisingly, researchers found that people who had a .01 BAC, which represented the lowest blood alcohol level recorded in the database, had about a 46 percent greater chance of being the sole cause of a car accident than sober drivers. According to the authors of the study, an adult man would register a .01 BAC after having only six ounces of beer. Unsurprisingly, the data indicated that as drivers' BAC levels increased, so did the probability that they would be responsible for a serious accident.

This study is the first to offer an analysis of nationwide data on buzzed drivers, but its findings are not likely to surprise many safety experts. More than anything else, the study shows that the .08 BAC level, set by every state as the threshold for most DUI offenses, is really rather arbitrary. Driving with a .07 BAC is significantly dangerous, even if it may be, strictly speaking, legal.

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers are likely to take action on this issue, although some have suggested that states make efforts to set the BAC level for DUI to .05 percent.

If you have been injured in a car accident with a drunk driver, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. For more information, talk to an attorney today.

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