Study: Any amount of alcohol consumption and driving is a deadly risk

Based on the findings of a study conducted by researchers with UC San Diego, there is no amount of alcohol consumption that is safe for motorists.

Despite knowing the dangers, many people in Illinois and elsewhere choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. This may be for any number of reasons. For example, some do not think they have had too much, while others may believe themselves to be they better drivers after they have had a few drinks. Whatever the reasoning, drinking and driving all too often leads to collisions, many of which result in serious injuries or death. According to a study published in the Injury Prevention journal, as people's blood alcohol content, or BAC, levels increase, so too does the likelihood of them being assigned official blame for causing an auto accident.

How does alcohol affect drivers?

When consumed, alcohol may have a range of effects on the human body. At even low BAC levels, these may affect people's ability to safely operate motor vehicles. In fact, with a BAC of 0.02 percent, motorists may experience decreased visual functions and impaired ability to divide their attention between two tasks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some other effects motorists may experience after drinking alcohol include the following:

· Decreased coordination, concentration and ability to process information

· Diminished ability to brake appropriately, maintain lane position and control speed

· Slowed responses to hazards and emergency situations on the road

· Delayed reaction times

· Impaired judgment

Due to a lack of control of their own vehicles, because they were not able to appropriately react to changes in the driving or traffic conditions, or for any number of other factors resulting from these effects, people may be more likely to be involved in motor vehicle collisions.

Studying the link between BAC level and crash blame

A team of researchers from UC San Diego sought to understand whether people being assigned official blame for causing accidents increases as they consume alcoholic beverages. To achieve this, they used information from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System database for accidents occurring between the years 1994 and 2011. This included a total of 570,731 crashes.

In order to draw their conclusions, the researchers examined the relationship between the degree to which people were found solely to blame for causing a wreck and their BAC levels. Specifically, the focused on those with BAC levels of between 0.01 and 0.07 percent. To measure blame, the researchers took into account driver factors coded in the database, including driving into oncoming traffic or running a red light.

Blame increases with BAC level

Based on the study's conclusions, no amount of alcohol consumption is safe for drivers. The researchers found motorists' odds of being blamed for causing a wreck over the sober motorists they collided with were 46 percent greater with a BAC of just 0.01 percent. Further, they noted the instances of drivers' being assigned fault for an accident increased steadily as their BAC levels elevated from 0.01 to 0.24 percent.

Seeking legal guidance

When people in Illinois are involved in drunk driving collisions, they may suffer serious injuries that may require medical treatment and time to recover. Consequently, those injured may incur undue medical expenses, as well as lose income if they are forced to take time off work. Depending on the circumstances, however, the drunk drivers may be liable for these and other resulting damages. Thus, people who have experienced such situations may benefit from discussing their rights and options with an attorney.