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Study: Lowering blood alcohol limit would save over 1,700 lives a year
November 13, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY — A new study suggests lowering the blood alcohol level from .08 to .05 would save over 1,700 lives each year across the nation.

Researchers at the nonpartisan organization NORC at the University of Chicago estimated fatal alcohol-related crashes would drop 11.1 percent at the lower blood alcohol content level, the Deseret News reports. Researchers analyzed earlier national and international drinking and driving studies to come up with their findings.

Research scientist Jim Fell, a co-author of the findings published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, told the Deseret News "I think with all the other evidence, this should be the clincher."

“We estimate that doing so would save 1,790 lives each year if all states adopted a .05 BAC limit,” Fell said.

The National Beverage Institute opposed the findings of the study. The institute's managing director, Sarah Longwell, called the NORC study "agenda-driven science at its worst," the Deseret News reported.

Fell, a strong advocate for .05 percent, told the Deseret News "if you're serious about reducing drunk driving, you have to seriously consider this."

He added that the study shows "strong evidence of the relationship between lowering the BAC limit for driving and the general deterrent effect on alcohol-related fatal (and nonfatal) crashes. While there may be arguments against lowering the BAC limit ... the life-saving potential appears to be worth the effort."

Utah will become the first state to lower its blood alcohol content standard from .08 to .05, which will go into effect on Dec. 30, 2018.

For more information on the study, click here for Deseret News' coverage of the topic.