0.05% BAC Facts

What is a 0.05% BAC law?

A .05 BAC Law means lowering the illegal per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from the current .08 BAC (which has saved over 24,000 lives in 25 years) to .05 BAC. This lower limit acts as a deterrent to prevent people from getting behind the wheel after they have been drinking. It does not necessarily increase arrests or decrease drinking.

A .05 BAC Law is a proven, effective tool that every state and jurisdiction should adopt to start saving the 10,000+ lives lost to alcohol-impaired driving every single year.

If every U.S. State had a .05% BAC Law, we would save the lives of (at least) 1,500 people every year.

Utah is the first state to pass a .05 BAC Law and is already seeing lifesaving benefits.

Other states have successfully introduced .05% BAC bills and are working hard to pass the law. See our map of states to find out how you can get involved.

The majority of Americans already support a lifesaving .05 BAC law in their states! (See AAA Foundation and Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute in Proof for more information).

How does a 0.05% BAC law save lives?

A .05% BAC Law is an effective solution to reduce alcohol-impaired driving crashes because it deters people at all BAC levels from driving, including those at high BAC levels. (National Transportation Safety Board, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine).

People are simply less likely to get behind the wheel when they have been drinking and they make the right decision to find another way to get home.

NHTSA’s 2022 study found Utah’s fatal crash rate dropped by 19.8% in 2019, the first year under the .05% BAC Law, and the fatality rate decreased by 18.3%. There were no negative effects  to business nor any increase in arrests. Utah’s drop in crash and fatality rates was a significant improvement over the rest of the United States during the post-implementation year studied, which had a 5.6% fatal crash rate reduction and a 5.9% fatality rate reduction in 2019. The neighboring States of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada did not show the same levels of improvement in fatal crash and fatality rates as Utah. 

Twenty years of international studies have shown that when a country lowers its BAC limits from .08 to .05, alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes decrease between 5% and 10% (Mann et al, 2001, Fell & Voas, 2006, and others). Most countries have some type of .05 BAC Law or lower, including France, Australia, Japan, Germany, and many others. These countries have the same or higher per capita levels of alcohol consumption as the United States, yet they have many fewer alcohol-impaired driving deaths.

(See NTSB and NASEM in Proof section for specific scientific studies)

What are common "myths" (and facts) about a 0.05% BAC Law?

Myth: 0.05 BAC means drinking less.

Facts: Opponents often try to misinform us that a .05 BAC Law is a way to make us drink less. Don’t believe this scare tactic! A .05 Law simply means not driving after you have been drinking. In fact, dozens of countries around the world have a .05% BAC Law or lower and, although these countries consume the same amount of alcohol (or more) per person than the U.S., they suffer many fewer alcohol-related crashes and deaths because they are less likely to drive after they have been drinking (World Health Organization).

Myth: A .05 BAC does not affect high BAC drivers. 

Facts: Some well-intentioned advocates may urge us to focus on only high BAC drivers, who do cause the majority of crashes, but well-established scientific evidence shows that lowering the BAC law changes behavior at all BAC levels; therefore, a .05 BAC Law is an effective intervention for preventing driving at both high and low BAC levels (Wagenaar et al, 2007). 

Myth: It is safe to drive at a .05 BAC.

Facts: Although a .05 BAC Law prevents driving by drinkers even with high BACs, laboratory tests have shown that even at .05% BAC, drivers have difficulty steering, reduced coordination, and declines in vision (CDC, NHTSA/USDOT).