Skip directly to search Skip directly to site content
Coming October 2016: The next generation of The Community Guide Preview Now
The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) Go to site home page About the Task Force


Submit your email address to get updates on The Community Guide topics of interest.

Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving: 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Laws

These laws state that it is illegal for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration to exceed 0.08%.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends 0.08% BAC laws based on strong evidence of their effectiveness in reducing alcohol-related motor vehicle crash fatalities.

Task Force Finding

Results from the Systematic Review

Nine studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Each study evaluated 0.08% BAC laws in one or more of the 16 states that implemented the laws before January 1, 1998. 
  • Studies reviewed fatal injury crashes (8 studies) and fatal and nonfatal injury crashes (1 study).
  • Fatalities due to alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes: median decrease of 7% following implementation of the law (interquartile range: 15% to 4% decrease; 7 studies)
  • Potential lives saved per year if all states enact 0.08% BAC laws: 400 - 600 (3 studies)

These results are based on a systematic review of all available studies led by scientists from CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention with input from a team of specialists in systematic review methods and experts in research, practice and policy related to reducing alcohol-impaired driving.

Economic Evidence

No studies met Community Guide requirements for an economic review of this intervention.

Supporting Materials


Shults RA, Elder RW, Sleet DA, et al. Reviews of evidence regarding interventions to reduce alcohol-impaired driving. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 67 kB] Am J Prev Med  2001;21(4S):66–88.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Recommendations to reduce injuries to motor vehicle occupants: increasing child safety seat use, increasing safety belt use, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 2.30 MB] Am J Prev Med 2001;21(4S):16–22.

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor-vehicle occupant injury: strategies for increasing use of child safety seats, increasing use of safety belts, and reducing alcohol-impaired driving. MMWR Recommendations and Reports 2001;50(RR07):1-13. External Web Site Icon

Task Force on Community Preventive Services. Motor vehicle occupant injury. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 355 kB] In : Zaza S, Briss PA, Harris KW, eds. The Guide to Community Preventive Services: What Works to Promote Health? Atlanta (GA): Oxford University Press;2005:329-84.

Mercer SL, Sleet DA, Elder RA, Cole KH, RA Shults, Nichols JL. Translating evidence into policy: lessons learned from the case of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. Annals of Epidemiology 2010;20(6):412-20. External Web Site Icon

Read other Community Guide publications about Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention in our library.

Promotional Materials

Community Guide News

More promotional materials for Community Guide reviews about Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving.

*PDF includes all of the information available and will not be updated.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation:
Guide to Community Preventive Services. Reducing alcohol-impaired driving: 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) laws. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: August 2000