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Effects of recent 0.08% legal blood alcohol limits on fatal crash involvement
  1. Ralph Hingson1,
  2. Timothy Heeren2,
  3. Michael Winter3
  1. 1Boston University School of Public Health: Social and Behavioral Sciences Department
  2. 2Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department
  3. 3Data Coordinating Center
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Ralph W Hingson, Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, T 2W, Boston, MA 02118
 (e-mail: rhingson{at}


Objectives—This study assessed whether states that lowered legal blood alcohol limits from 0.10% to 0.08% in 1993 and 1994 experienced post-law reductions in alcohol related fatal crashes.

Methods—Six states that adopted 0.08% as the legal blood alcohol limit in 1993 and 1994 were paired with six nearby states that retained a 0.10% legal standard. Within each pair, comparisons were made for the maximum equal available number of pre-law and post-law years.

Results—States adopting 0.08% laws experienced a 6% greater post-law decline in the proportion of drivers in fatal crashes with blood alcohol levels at 0.10% or higher and a 5% greater decline in the proportion of fatal crashes that were alcohol related at 0.10% or higher.

Conclusions—If all states adopted the 0.08% legal blood alcohol level, 400–500 fewer traffic fatalities would occur annually.

  • fatal crash
  • legal blood alcohol limit
  • drunk driving

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