Motorists who are driving with a very low blood alcohol concentration are much more at fault in causing drunk driving accidents, compared to the sober drivers that they collide with. Those are the results of a new study that was conducted by the University of California San Diego. The study was published recently in the Injury Prevention journal.
The researchers used data from the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System. They focused not on motorists who were severely impaired with a high blood-alcohol concentration level, but on minimally buzzed drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of between .01% and 07%. Technically, these are not legally impaired drivers because to be legally impaired in the State of California, you must have a blood-alcohol concentration of at or above .08%.
The researchers found that people in this “minimally- buzzed” group, who had a blood-alcohol concentration that was below the legal limit of .08, were 46% more likely to be blamed for an accident, compared to the other sober driver in the accident.
The researchers also found that there was no sudden threshold effect, and no transition from not being blamed in an accident, to being blamed for causing an accident. Rather, the blame for the accident seemed to increase steadily from a blood-alcohol concentration of .01% through .24%.
This seems to indicate that driving with even a minor amount of alcohol in your system could sufficiently impact your driving abilities. In other words, if you have consumed enough alcohol to give you a pleasant buzz, you have a higher risk of being involved in an accident and being blamed for the accident, than a sober motorist. The researchers say that very often, drivers who register below .08% are not punished severely for causing an accident, and that needs to change.