Lowering state legal blood alcohol limits to 0.08%: the effect on fatal motor vehicle crashes

Am J Public Health. 1996 Sep;86(9):1297-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.9.1297.


Objectives: This study was undertaken to determine whether reductions in alcohol-related fatal crashes following adoption of 0.08% legal blood alcohol limits were independent of general regional trends.

Methods: The first five states that lowered legal blood alcohol limits to 0.08% were paired with five nearby states that retained a 0.10% legal standard. Within each pair, comparisons were made for the maximum equal available number of pre- and postlaw years.

Results: States adopting 0.08% laws experienced 16% and 18% relative postlaw declines in the proportions of fatal crashes involving fatally injured drivers whose blood alcohol levels were 0.08% or higher and 0.15% or higher.

Conclusions: It all states adopted 0.08% legal blood alcohol limits, at least 500 to 600 fewer fatal crashes would occur annually.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Humans
  • United States


  • Ethanol