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Even a BAC under 0.08 percent can lead to drunk driving accidents

Pennsylvania residents may be shocked to hear that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each day, nearly 30 people nationwide will lose their lives in an alcohol-related accident. This amounts to one drunk driving death every 53 minutes. While deaths due to drunk driving have been going down over the previous 30 years, people still have a one in three chance of being involved.

The effects of alcohol can reduce a person's ability to drive, even if they are under the legal limit of 0.08 percent. For example, a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 percent can affect a driver's visual functions and the driver's ability to undertake two tasks simultaneously. A BAC of 0.05 percent can reduce a driver's coordination, ability to follow moving objects, ability to steer and ability to respond to an emergency on the road.

At a BAC of 0.08 percent, a person's ability to concentrate is compromised, and they may suffer short-term memory loss. This means that a person may not be able to control their speed, capably process information and a person's perception may be impaired.

A BAC of 0.10 percent makes it difficult for a driver to stay in one lane and appropriately brake when necessary. Finally, a BAC of 0.15 percent could substantially impair a driver's ability to control their vehicle, pay attention to the task of driving and process the necessary visual and auditory information needed to safely operate a motor vehicle.

While the legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08 percent, as these facts show, even a smaller amount of alcohol can affect a person's ability to drive. Unfortunately, many people after a night out on the town will not heed the advice to ride with a designated driver, take a taxicab home or find a safe place to stay until they sober up. These are the people who will recklessly get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, causing drunk driving accidents. Those who have been injured by a drunk driver may want to explore their legal options, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit if appropriate.

Source: NHTSA.gov, "Drunk Driving," accessed on March 18, 2017

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