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Drinking and Driving Has An Effect Even After Just Two

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Drunk driving laws revolve around a blood alcohol content level of 0.08, and most drivers do not get arrested and or convicted of being above the limit. However there is some debate about whether or not this level is low enough to protect people on the road.

Even if you've never needed to attend dui school, national surveys show that many Americans have had the equivalent of one or two drinks before heading out on the road. Depending on height, weight and tolerance, this is generally the equivalent of a BAC level of roughly 0.03 to 0.05.

The good news, according to the economists who write for the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times, is that drunk driving-related fatalities have dropped by almost 75 percent in the past roughly 30 years. But those numbers could as easily be the result of more stringent crash-test requirements from the government, as well as improvements in road design.

At odds with the national common sense that reducing fatalities is important, the authors delve deeper into the statistics related to drinking and driving. For example, the 0.05 BAC that we noted from before, the result of a couple drinks, makes drivers about 40 percent more likely to be involved in a collision.

Crash risks increase as the number of drinks does, obviously, but the numbers are there for the gray area of drivers who are under the legal limit. When one considers that 30 percent of all Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash, it's a truly national issue.

California DUI schools offer one way of helping each other learn how to make better decisions about drinking and driving. Alternatives in many areas include taxis, public transportation and other means to avoid driving after one has had too much to drink. On the other hand, even in rural areas it's possible to designate a driver who stays sober at festivities where alcohol is present.

The costs of driving while intoxicated are high in many states, where convicted offenders can expect a suspended license, fines, court costs and a trip to traffic school. But the cost to society is even higher. For every sober mile, the Freakonomics bloggers found that America as a whole paid 11 cents. When the BAC of the driver was above 0.08, that rose to about $5.50, or 50 times the amount it cost for a sober driver.

When compared to other countries, it's hard to say that Americans are completely responsible, considering that in some portions of the world public transportation is much easier to come by. But with the freedom of living in wide open spaces that we have, it also requires better education and the choice to practice defensive driving and not drinking and driving.

Otherwise, motorists who fail to take heed may find that they are causing a burden not just in their own lives, but on others: about three dollars of every five that go to pay the costs of drunk driving aren't paid by the offender themselves.