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Study finds strict alcohol laws reduce drunk driving deaths

Kentucky and other U.S. states could reduce alcohol-related car accidents by strengthening their alcohol control laws. A new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on May 29, was conducted by researchers at the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center.

According to the study, if all states strengthened their alcohol restriction policies by just 10 percent, around 800 lives could be saved each year. These saved lives would include drunk drivers and their sober victims who together account for 70 percent of crash fatalities. They would also include drivers who have consumed alcohol but are not legally drunk; these drivers account for 20 percent of crash fatalities.

For the study, researchers gathered crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and matched it with information on state alcohol policies. They found that the states with the strictest alcohol laws had the lowest risk of alcohol-related crash fatalities. In fact, they found that the risk of alcohol-related crashes dropped 1 percent for every 1 percent increase in the strength of alcohol policies. Most U.S. states have a legal blood alcohol limit of .08. However, many other countries have legal limits of .05 or lower. In an effort to reduce traffic fatalities, the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Academies of Sciences are pushing for states to lower their legal limits.

Individuals charged with DUI could be fined, sent to jail and have their driver's license suspended. In order to achieve a better outcome, many drunk driving defendants choose to work with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to challenge the evidence in the case and develop a defense against the charges.

Source: WebMD, "Tough State Drunk Driving Laws Save Lives," Steve Reinberg, June 29, 2018

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