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Study: Drivers don't need to be drunk to be dangerous

Getting behind the wheel of an automobile drunk is dangerous. That's why it's illegal in New Jersey and the rest of the United States to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08. However, a new study points out that .08 isn't a "magic" number, and even "buzzed" drivers pose a threat.

According to the study's lead author, who is a sociologist at University of California, San Diego, even drivers with a BAC of .01 face a heightened risk of causing a car accident.

After examining more than 570,000 U.S. car accidents between 1994 and 2011, the researchers found that drivers with a BAC of .01 were 46 percent more likely than sober drivers to be solely to blame for a collision. As a driver's BAC increased, so did the likelihood of the driver being to blame for the accident.

The lead researcher pointed out that a BAC level of .01 is the equivalent of about half of a can of beer in an adult man.

"Even if you're not aware of it, you are impaired after one drink," the lead researcher said. "Maybe not as much as after 5 drinks, but you are."

The study, which was published in the journal Injury Prevention, concluded that when it comes to alcohol consumption, no amount is safe when driving.

In New Jersey, a person injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver may be entitled to damages. If the other driver had been drinking before causing the accident, it only makes it more likely that the accident victim will be entitled to compensation.

Source: Reuters, "Buzzed drivers under legal limit still risk car accidents," Kathryn Doyle, Jan. 21, 2014

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