Study shows even a slight buzz increases fatal crash risk

According to a recent study, any amount of alcohol is too much before driving - even at levels well below the legal limit. The findings underscore the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's admonition that "buzzed driving is drunk driving," and lend support to the National Transportation Safety Board's recent recommendation that states update their drunk driving laws to create lower limits for intoxication.

Lower DUI limits could save hundreds of lives

In Connecticut, and all other states throughout the nation, the law prohibits driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. In 2013, however, the NTSB recommended that states adopt a lower BAC limit of 0.05. According to estimates cited by the NTSB, as many as 800 drunk driving deaths per year could be prevented nationwide if every state adopted the lower limit.

Globally, more than 100 countries have enacted drunk driving limits of 0.05 or lower, resulting in substantially fewer alcohol-related traffic deaths, the NTSB says. However, some experts believe the U.S. laws are unlikely to change any time soon.

"Minimally buzzed" drivers more likely to cause fatal crashes

In a study of more than half a million fatal accidents involving drivers with BAC levels of 0.01 to 0.07, researchers at the University of California San Diego determined that drivers who have consumed alcohol in any amount are substantially more likely to be at fault for causing a fatal crash than are drivers who have not consumed any alcohol.

According to the study, a driver with a BAC level as low as 0.01 - the equivalent of about half a beer for the average adult male - is nearly 50 percent more likely than a completely sober driver to be at fault for causing a fatal crash. As BAC levels increase, so does the likelihood of fault. Thus, while 0.08 is widely regarded as the level at which it becomes unsafe to drive, the study shows that the risk of serious accidents increases steadily with alcohol consumption, rather than shifting abruptly from "safe" to "unsafe" at the legal limit.

Call a lawyer if you are hurt in a crash

Whether they are drunk, high or simply reckless, drivers who cause injuries in Connecticut as a result of their own negligence can be held financially responsible for the damage they cause - even if they do not face criminal charges. If you or a family member has been hurt in a Connecticut traffic accident, talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer about how you may be able to obtain compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses and other losses connected to the crash.