A study published today in the journal Addiction concludes that no amount of alcohol is safe to consume before getting behind the wheel of an automobile. Nationally, most states define driving while intoxicated as a blood alcohol level of .08. Driving with a lower alcohol level, or driving “buzzed,” is not a crime in most jurisdictions.
The study, prepared by researchers at UCSD, determined than evenlow amounts of blood alcohol contribute to car accidents and crashes. The researchers studied data from thousands of car crashes around the country, and found that a blood alcohol level as low as .01 increased the risk of a crash causing injury by nearly 40%. The study also concluded that as the blood alcohol level increased (although still below the legal limit of .08) the likelihood of an accident and injury also increased. The inescapable conclusion: even small amounts of blood alcohol in a person’s system can lead to a much greater risk of a car crash causing injury.