Critics Question Validity of UCSD Study Regarding "Buzzed" Driving

Posted By Thomas V. Wallin || 18-Jul-2011

California DUI A few weeks ago, we told you about a new study by UC San Diego researchers that suggests that even one drink with dinner might impair drivers and lead to a California DUI-related accident.

Following the post, many of our readers questioned whether just one drink could really increase a person's risk for a traffic accident. Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade association, shares that view.

Here are a few points raised by the Institute in a recent opinion piece for Sign On San Diego.

  • The data set used-the Fatality Analysis Reporting System-only compiles numbers on accidents involving a fatality. These are, by definition, the most serious accidents. As such, they are not representative of most accidents. In fact, they comprise only three-tenths of one percent of all car accidents or 34,172 out of 10.2 million. As noted in the article, "That's like trying to discover how widespread steroid usage is and using Major League Baseball players as your sample."
  • The American Beverage Institute also points out that the authors of the study also found lower ratios of severe injuries occurring when drivers had a .03, .04, .06 or .07 blood-alcohol concentrations than a .01 BAC. This of course seems counterintuitive. The results also differed regionally. In western states, for instance, the results flip: a BAC of .00 is more dangerous to the driver than a BAC of .01.
  • Finally, the Institute notes another recent study that reached an altogether different conclusion. The study-Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research-revealed that "differences in reaction time between [participants with a .00 BAC] and [participants with a .05 BAC] were either not significant ... or reached only a trend level of significance (false alarms)."

Clearly, there is still research to be done regarding BAC and driver impairment. In the meantime, drivers should keep in mind that anything over .08% could result in a California DUI arrest.

If you find yourself arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in California, it is imperative to consult with an experienced California DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to find out how we can help you.