A Look at the Legal Limit for Drunk Driving

Despite what many people think, drinking and driving is not a crime.  It is perfectly legal for someone to have a beer and then get behind the wheel of a car and drive, so long as their blood alcohol content (BAC) is not at or above the legal limit of 0.08 or they are not otherwise intoxicated even at a lower limit.

mWkbC9MThe limit of 0.08 grams of ethanol (drinking alcohol) per hundred milliliters of blood was imposed in all states in 2000 through a federal law, even though the vast majority of states had already adopted the standard by that time.  However, some states still maintained their legal limit at 0.10, which is actually significantly higher that the current legal requirement, as 0.02 can have a major effect on one’s level of intoxication with respect to the ability to safely drive a motor vehicle.

While Congress technically does not have the power to force states to lower their legal limit, they are constitutionally allowed to tie the act to highway funding and say that if they did not lower the legal limit to 0.08, they would not be receiving the highway funding that the desperately need.  This is also how Congress was able to force all states to raise the drinking age to 21 in response to lobbying efforts from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other similar organizations.

The reason for a legal limit is because it creates what Boston drunk driving accident lawyers refer to as a per se standard.  This means that if a person has a BAC of 0.08 or higher, there is no need to prove that the driver suffered from any effects of intoxication, because they are deemed intoxicated as a matter of law.

The problem, as discussed in a recent article from the Huffington Post, is that someone can be intoxicated and unable to safely drive a vehicle at BAC much lower that 0.08, and that is a much more difficult case to prove in a criminal or traffic case, but the conclusion is supported by current and historical research data.  It is important to keep mind that even though a person may not be legally intoxicated, it does not mean they were not negligent, and this can be the basis for a civil car accident lawsuit.  There are a variety of reasons for this, but it is mainly because the negligent standard is different than the crime of drunk driving, and there is a different standard of proof in civil and criminal cases.

To get an idea of how serious the problem of drunk driving is in this country and the need to re-examine the standard of intoxication, every 53 minutes on average a person is killed in this country as a result of a drunk driving accident, and every one of these accidents is preventable.  This equates to nearly 33,000 people dying as a results of drunk driving accident each year in the United States.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Drunk Driving Laws Don’t Match The Research, July 22, 2016, Huffington Post, By Brad J. Uren

More Blog Entries:

Report: Possible Tougher Drunk Driving Laws in Massachusetts, March 30, 2016, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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