Driving after having even one alcoholic drink makes you a road hazard, according to a recent study from the University of California, San Diego, published in Injury Prevention.
The study looked at more than 570,000 fatal car accidents occurring between 1994 and 2011. It found that drivers with a blood alcohol content of just 0.01 percent—far below the legal U.S. intoxication limit of 0.08—were 46 percent more likely to be officially held responsible for the crash, compared to the sober drivers they collided with.
An earlier study from the same institution, published in Addiction in 2012, reported that drivers who were only slightly tipsy tended to have more severe crashes than sober drivers. Not only can a single drink impair driving skills and slow reaction times, but it also makes it more likely that drivers will speed and not wear seat belts.
The researchers support recommendations to lower the legal drunk driving limit in the U.S. to a blood alcohol level of 0.05, as in most of Europe. Some countries, including Japan, Sweden and Costa Rica, have even lower limits, while a few have set the limit at zero.