Even drivers with a slight "buzz" are more likely to be at fault for accidents than the sober drivers they hit, according to a new study. The authors looked at fatal car crash data from a U.S. national database of more than 570,000 collisions between 1994 and 2011 and concluded that “there appears to be no safe level of alcohol in the bloodstream when it comes to driving”.
"This has a very wide range of implications," lead author David Phillips, a sociologist at University of California, San Diego, said. "For the individual driver it means don't drive while buzzed, and for a passenger, don't get in a car with a driver who is buzzed. Find a way to make the sober one the driver." The data Phillips and his colleagues analyzed included blood alcohol content (BAC) measurements for the drivers as well as clear indicators of blame for the accident, such as which driver ran a red light or drove in the wrong lane.
Drivers with a BAC of .01 percent, the lowest level recorded in the dataset, were 46 percent more likely to be solely blamed for the crash than a sober driver, according to the results published in the journal Injury Prevention. (Note: The U.S. legal driving limit is .08). An adult man would need half of one 12-ounce beer to generate a .01 percent BAC reading on a Breathalyzer test.
For men and women, as blood alcohol level increased, so did the possibility of blame for the accident. That's what would be expected based on previous research, Phillips said, and this study won't be particularly surprising to researchers, but it is the first nationwide analysis of data on "buzzed" drivers. "There's nothing magical about .08," he added. No research indicates that a great change in driving capacity takes place between .07 and .08.
"The lower we can make the legal BAC (i.e. 0.00%), the safer everyone will be," he said.
We have heard the campaign: “Buzzed driving IS drunk driving”.
You do not have to be .08 or above to be arrested or convicted in Arizona.
Even if after ONE SIP you are “impaired to the slightest degree”, you are not legally allowed to get behind the wheel. The Arizona standard is just that: “Impaired to the slightest degree”.
If you decide to drink, let someone else drive. Period.