Reduce Legal Blood-Alcohol Limit to Cut Drunk Driving Deaths: Report

Lower legal blood alcohol levels for drivers are needed to eliminate drunk driving deaths in the United States, according to a new report.

All states should lower legal blood alcohol levels for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reported.

The report also calls for significantly higher alcohol taxes and tighter restrictions on alcohol sales.

While progress has been made in recent decades, more than 10,000 drunk driving deaths still occur each year in the United States. Since 1982, drunk driving has caused one-third of all traffic deaths on average, the report authors said.

Moreover, people other than the drinking driver account for nearly 40 percent of victims in drunk driving crash deaths, the authors noted.

“The plateauing fatality rates indicate that what has been done to decrease deaths from alcohol-impaired driving has been working but is no longer sufficient to reverse this growing public health problem,” report committee chair Steven Teutsch said in a news release from the National Academies.

“Our report offers a comprehensive blueprint to reinvigorate commitment and calls for systematic implementation of policies, programs, and systems changes to renew progress and save lives,” he added.

Teutsch is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health and a senior fellow at the nonprofit Public Health Institute.

The report, released Jan. 17, also calls for stronger measures to prevent illegal alcohol sales to people under 21 and to already-drunk adults.

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