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Can Driving at a Legal BAC Level Be a Factor in an Alcohol-Related Crash?

Atlanta car accident attorneyEvery day across the United States nearly 30 people, on average, are killed in crashes related to drunk driving. In 2017, approximately 10,874 people lost their lives due to drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2016 alone, there were more than 368 traffic fatalities throughout the state of Georgia that were caused by alcohol impairment.

How do we know the actual number of crashes and fatalities caused by alcohol impairment?

Most of those reported involve drivers who had blood alcohol content (BAC) levels of 0.08 percent or higher, which is legally considered too drunk to drive.

Evidence shows that drivers who had been drinking don't need to have a BAC level of 0.08 percent to cause a serious crash, however. According to an article in verywellmind, alcohol impairment can start at a BAC level as low as 0.02 percent. While the changes are subtle at this level, drivers may experience:

  • Increased relaxation
  • Some decline in visual functions
  • Some loss of judgment

While this level of impairment may not be profound, it could contribute to the likelihood of a crash, especially among drivers who habitually drive distracted or recklessly. Alcohol impairment really starts to kick in at a BAC level of 0.05 percent, which is still considered legal. At this level, drivers begin to experience:

  • Loss of small muscle control
  • Impaired judgment
  • Release of inhibition
  • Lowered alertness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Difficulty with steering

In this case, alcohol is more likely to be a leading factor in a crash.

What is the likelihood of being involved in a car accident at a legal BAC level?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, performing common driving tasks can become more challenging and demanding at any level of impairment. For example, in comparison to driving sober:

  • The risk of a fatal crash is 1.4 times greater at a BAC level between 0.02 and 0.04 percent
  • 11.1 times greater at a BAC level between 0.05 and 0.09 percent

Of course, the greater the BAC level, the greater the risk of a fatal crash. Drivers with BAC levels between 0.10 and 0.14 percent are 48 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, and drivers at 0.15 percent or higher are 380 times more likely.

Drivers who plan on consuming any alcohol should still be held accountable for any damage or injuries they cause in a crash. That's why if you were involved in a crash, it's important that you seek immediate medical attention, then consult with an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney as soon as possible.

While it may be difficult to use a driver's legal BAC level as evidence, there is only one thing for certain: someone else's negligence caused your crash. The driver could have been speeding or using a cellphone while slightly impaired. Determining what really caused your crash will require the investigative work of a highly skilled attorney at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C.

Our legal team has built a reputation in the greater Atlanta area for successfully winning cases for injured motorists. Our case results prove it. To find out how we can help you, contact us online and set up your free case evaluation.

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