-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Even very low blood
levels of alcohol increase the risk of deadly car crashes, a new
Drunk driving laws need to be updated to reflect this fact, the
They examined data from more than 570,700 fatal traffic crashes
in the United States between 1994 and 2011, and focused on drivers
with a blood alcohol level of 0.01 to 0.07 percent, which some
refer to as "buzzed driving." Legally, a driver is considered drunk
once blood alcohol levels reach 0.08 percent.
Drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.01 percent -- well below
the legal limit -- were 46 percent more likely to be officially and
solely blamed for a crash than the sober drivers they collided
with, according to the study led by sociologist David Phillips, at
the University of California, San Diego.
"We find no safe combination of drinking and driving -- no point at which it is harmless to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car," Phillips said in a university news release.
There is no sudden switch from being blameless below the legal
limit to being blamed once over the legal limit, the researchers
also found. Instead, blame rose steadily as blood alcohol levels
increased from 0.01 to 0.24, according to the study published
online recently in the journal
Drivers with blood alcohol levels between 0.01 to 0.07 often
don't receive more severe punishment than sober drivers involved in
crashes, the researchers noted.
Police, judges and the general public treat a blood alcohol
level of 0.08 percent as "a sharp, definitive, meaningful
boundary," and don't impose harsh penalties on drivers with alcohol
levels below that, Phillips said. He added that perspective needs
"Our data support both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's campaign that 'Buzzed driving is drunk driving' and the recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board, to reduce the legal limit to [blood alcohol level] 0.05 percent," Phillips said. "In fact, our data provide support for yet greater reductions in the legal [blood alcohol level]."
More than 100 countries already set their legal blood alcohol
level limits at 0.05 percent or lower, according to the news
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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