New Ways to Stop Drunk Driving


New Ways to Stop Drunk Driving

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento auto accident attorney. A new call to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads was issued this week. The crux of the report revolves around the need to lower the blood alcohol standard upon which drunk driving is measured. Once this happens, the report concludes fewer fatal accidents due to drunk driving will occur.

Reasons for a New Approach

According to a committee chair at the  National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, there has been a plateau in the number of fatal drunk driving accidents in the past few decades. However, about 10,000 individuals still die each year due to a drunk driver, accounting for 33 percent of all highway deaths. In addition, approximately 40 percent of those killed are not the drunk driver, including 16 percent of all children who die in roadway crashes. The report stresses that while efforts to decrease the number of drunk drivers have worked to some extent, the need for further commitment to eliminate drunk driving remains.

New Steps to Eliminate Drunk Driving

The report presents several ways that need to be taken to keep drunk drivers off the road. The most prominent adjustment to current law would be to reduce blood alcohol levels. A nationwide change in the BAC level from 0.08 to 0.05 percent is recommended. This is not the first time such a recommendation has been made.

The National Transportation Safety Board offered this as a way to curtail drunk driving in the past, based on the average number of drinks needed to reach a 0.05 BAC. A 170-pound man would require four drinks within two hours to reach a BAC level of 0.05. A 137-pound woman could have three drinks to reach the same level. Driving performance capabilities begin to decline even at a blood alcohol level of 0.05, including poor judgment, weaving from lane to lane, braking response and steering adjustments. The drivers with a 0.05 BAC level are 30 to 50 percent more impaired than someone with a 0.00 BAC level. Other countries around the world have already reduced the BAC limit to 0.05 with a 5 to 18 percent reduction in drunk driving accidents.

Watch Youtube Video ~ Testing the Limits: BAC at .08 vs. .05

Other Measures to Reduce the Number of Drunk Drivers

Several other measures were offered to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. They are:

  • Increased alcohol tax
  • Tightened restrictions on sale of alcohol
  • Increased controls on advertising for alcohol
  • Using ignition interlock systems for all drunk drivers
  • Stricter rules for sales of alcohol to those under 21
  • Restriction of sales to adults who are impaired

Opposition to Reducing the BAC Limit

Opposition from the Distilled Spirits Council was quick to follow, saying that the council “strongly supports… the 0.08 BAC limit.” Their argument was based on the assumption that lowering the BAC level will have no effect on those who have high levels or those who are habitual drinkers. The council also said that increased taxes or restricting advertising will be useless. Excise taxes on alcohol on the federal level were reduced by about 16 percent recently.

Types of Accidents Common With Drunk Driving 

The most common type of drunk driving accident is falling asleep at the wheel, which frequently happens when a drunk driver operates a vehicle. In many cases, the driver’s foot is still applying pressure to the accelerator. Combined with the inability to steer, this leads to off-the-road single vehicle crashes. In addition, many drunk drivers, unable to judge the distance of their car from other vehicles, are involved in rear end collisions. Another common type of crash is wrong-way accidents due to drunk driving.

Sacramento Auto Accident Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento auto accident attorney. Drunk drivers routinely cause catastrophic accidents. If you have been injured by a drunk driver or a family member has been killed, you need an experienced injury lawyer at your side. Reach out to me at (916) 921-6400 locally or (800) 404-5400 toll free for friendly and free advice. You can reach me online too if that is more convenient.

I’ve practiced law in Sacramento since 1982 and helped clients with brain injuries, wrongful deaths and other traumatic injuries.

I’ve helped several clients with million dollar settlements and have been admitted to the Million Dollar Advocates forum.

You can look at what former clients had to say about my practice on Avvo, Yelp and Google+. You might also want to look at what I’ve done for my clients on the settlements and verdicts page. is the website I founded and own. It presents a compendium of useful information on personal injury law.

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