Lower BAC Level Could Save Drivers’ Lives

We have been ingrained with the idea that driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above a 0.08 percent is not only illegal, but dangerous. And, yet, every day, 29 people die in the United States from drunk driving1. Drunk drivers are especially prevalent in California’s cities. Take Los Angeles, for example. In 2015, drunk driving injured or killed 3,300 people. Other big cities, like Sacramento and San Francisco, experienced more than 400 alcohol involved accidents in the same year2. It seems never-ending.

Cities are attempting to combat drunk driving by implementing strategies aligning with the Vision Zero campaign. The goal of this campaign is to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) supports this movement. They recently released a report recommending the following strategies that could help eliminate drunk driving fatalities and injuries:

  • Lowering the BAC legal limit from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent
  • Increasing alcohol taxes
  • Limiting alcohol availability
  • Dissuading alcohol use through stronger alcohol advertising and marketing
  • Increasing sobriety checkpoints
  • Installation of ignition interlocks for all offenders whose BAC was above the limit
  • Implementing DWI courts and treatments for binge drinking/alcohol use disorders
  • Providing alternative transportation
  • Adopting new in-vehicle technologies that prevent drunk driving

When driving impairment can begin as low as 0.02 percent, it makes sense to lower the legal driving BAC limit3. Countries like Austria and Belgium have proven that lowering the BAC limit to 0.05 percent is effective4. By using the strategies outlined above, thousands of lives could be saved a year. It’s time that we do more to protect our motoristspedestrianscyclists, and all others who may use the road from drunk drivers.


  1. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, “Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem” 
  2. According to California Office of Traffic Safety report that in San Francisco, they had 432 alcohol involved accidents and Sacramento had 429 alcohol involved accident.
  3. On Health, “Alcohol Impairment Chart,” 
  4. Research Gate, “The effectiveness of reducing illegal blood alcohol consecration limits for driving: Evidence for lowering the limit to 0.5 BAC”