In North Carolina, as in 48 other states, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration among drivers is .08. Anything over that constitutes drunk driving. However, some experts warn that impairment can begin with a BAC as low as .03. In March 2020, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study that reinforces this fact.

For their study, investigators at the Boston Medical Center analyzed those car crash fatalities between 2000 and 2015 that involved alcohol. It turns out that of the more than 600,000 such fatalities that were reported nationwide in that period, 37% involved a driver with alcohol in his or her blood. In 15% of these cases, the driver had a BAC below .08.

Moreover, in 55% of these crashes, it was someone other than the drinking driver who was killed. Crashes in which the driver has a BAC below the legal limit were more likely to kill young people, too, compared to crashes where a driver was legally drunk.

On the other hand, the number of deaths decline by 9% where stricter alcohol policies are in place. So, for example, Utah is the only state where the legal BAC limit is .05. Other countries have adopted a similar law. The result can be greater safety for drivers as well as pedestrians and other road users.

Drunk driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. It goes without saying that drunk drivers are negligent, so victims of accidents where alcohol is involved can file a claim in the effort to be reimbursed for their legitimate losses, such as medical costs and lost wages. Victims should know that they must not share any of the blame; otherwise, under North Carolina’s contributory negligence law, they cannot recover damages. A lawyer may evaluate their case in the light of this rule.