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Do 'drunk' drivers have to have a BAC level of 0.08 to cause an accident?

Florida auto accident attorneyWith Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner, Florida drivers should be vigilant when it comes to drunk driving. While law enforcement will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers, they can't be everywhere all the time. Sadly, many impaired drivers will still get behind the wheel, despite the risks.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving crashes killed more than 10,800 people in 2017. Approximately 1,837 of those killed were involved in crashes with drivers who had blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels below the legal limit of 0.08.

This raises the question: where does impaired driving begin? An article in verywellmind has the answer and it's quite simple: long before a driver has a BAC level that reaches 0.08. Here's why.

Can a driver be legally impaired?

According to more than 20 years of research, impairment can begin as soon as someone has one drink. At a BAC as low as 0.02, drivers may experience some minor loss of judgment, declined visual functioning, and declined ability to focus on more than one task. While this may not seem like much, any level of impairment is dangerous, especially if a driver already engages in poor habits behind the wheel.

It gets much worse at 0.05. While it's perfectly legal to get behind the wheel with a BAC level of 0.05, drivers may experience:

  • Loss of small muscle control
  • Poor visual focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Release of inhibition
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty steering
  • Reduced reaction time

Alcohol impairment can still be a factor in an accident, despite the blood alcohol level

These risk factors significantly raise the likelihood of a crash. Regardless of whether or not it's legal, the verywellmind article urges legally impaired drivers to stay off the road. In short, there is no safe BAC limit.

At a BAC level between 0.02 - 0.04 percent, drivers are 1.4 times more likely to cause a fatal crash than those who are completely sober. At a BAC level between 0.05 - 0.09 percent, drivers are 11.1 times more likely to cause a fatal crash.

Even when drivers are "legally impaired," they can still be held accountable if their poor judgment or reduced ability to safely drive a car causes a crash. It may be difficult to prove that alcohol was a factor if an at-fault driver's BAC was within the legal limit. It could be a contributing factor if the at-fault driver was speeding, driving recklessly, or texting behind the wheel, however.

If you were hurt in a crash, the Sarasota car accident attorneys at Farrow & Pulice, P.A. can use the evidence collected from the crash scene and witness statements to help you build a strong case. To find out how we can help, contact us online and schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.

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