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Blood alcohol concentration laws

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) laws set legal limits for drivers' blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). In the United States, lower BAC limits are generally set for drivers under the legal drinking age. In other countries, lower levels often apply to newly licensed drivers or newly licensed drivers under a specified age (CG-Motor vehicle injury).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced alcohol-related crashes
Reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that 0.08% BAC laws reduce alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and fatalities compared to higher BAC levels (CG-Motor vehicle injury, NICE-Killoran 2010, Bernat 2004). Setting lower BAC limits for young or inexperienced drivers has also been shown to reduce crashes and fatalities; however, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (CG-Motor vehicle injury).

Research suggests that lowering BAC limits further (e.g., from 0.08% to 0.05%) can further reduce crashes and fatalities (NICE-Killoran 2010).

Implementation

United States

All 50 states and Washington, DC, have BAC limits of 0.08% for drivers age 21 and over. Limits for drivers under the age of 21 range from 0.00% – 0.02% (APIS).

Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of 15 states that has a BAC limit of 0.00% for drivers under the age of 21 (APIS).

Citations - Description

CG-Motor vehicle injury - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Motor vehicle injury prevention. Accessed on June 20, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Bernat 2004* - Bernat DH, Dunsmuir WTM, Wagenaar AC. Effects of lowering the legal BAC to 0.08 on single-vehicle-nighttime fatal crashes in 19 jurisdictions. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 2004;36(6):1089-97. Accessed on June 20, 2017
CG-Motor vehicle injury - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Motor vehicle injury prevention. Accessed on June 20, 2017
NICE-Killoran 2010 - Killoran A, Canning U, Doyle N, Sheppard L. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths: Final report. London, UK: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); 2010. Accessed on June 20, 2017

Citations - Implementation

APIS - Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS). Welcome to the Alcohol Policy Information System. Accessed on June 20, 2017

Page Last Updated

October 11, 2013

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