Report: States Need Stricter Drunk Driving Laws

Mar 15, 2018

A report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says states need to adopt stricter laws about blood alcohol concentration to prevent fatal car crashes. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Credit CDC/Amanda Mills


Alcohol impairment accounts for nearly one-third of U.S. traffic fatalities, at 29 deaths a day. One of the report’s authors is Julie Baldwin, director of the Center for Health Equity Research at Northern Arizona University. She says states need stricter laws about blood alcohol concentration or BAC.

"We know that an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle begins to deteriorate at low levels of BAC, which can increase a driver’s risk of being in a crash," Baldwin says. "A number of countries have decreased the BAC laws to 0.05 percent."

In the U.S. only Utah considers it a crime to drive at 0.05 percent BAC. Arizona and all other states penalize drivers at 0.08 percent.

In addition to changing those laws, the report suggests higher taxes on alcohol and more restrictions on when and where it’s sold. Baldwin adds there’s a need for better alternative transportation, especially in rural areas.