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Motor Vehicle Injury – Alcohol-Impaired Driving: 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Laws


What the CPSTF Found

About The Systematic Review

The CPSTF finding is based on evidence from a systematic review of 9 studies (search period through June 2000).

The review was conducted on behalf of the CPSTF 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 motor vehicle injury prevention.


As of February 2015, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have 0.08% BAC laws.

In support of .08 BAC laws, the U.S. Congress included a provision in the Fiscal Year 2001 Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that required states to implement 0.08% BAC laws by October 2003 or risk losing federal highway construction funds.

Summary of Results

Detailed results from the systematic review are available in the published evidence review pdf icon [PDF - 2.30 MB].

Nine studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Deaths resulting from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes decreased by a median of 7% following implementation of the law (7 studies).

Summary of Economic Evidence

An economic review of this intervention did not find any relevant studies.


Results should be applicable to all drivers in the United States though the review did not find information on the effectiveness of these laws in various subgroups.

Evidence Gaps

The CPSTF identified several areas that have limited information. Additional research and evaluation could help answer the following questions and fill remaining gaps in the evidence base. (What are evidence gaps?)

  • How do variations in enforcement levels influence the effectiveness of laws to reduce alcohol-impaired driving?
  • What are the independent effects of publicity on the effectiveness of laws to reduce alcohol-impaired driving?
  • Does public compliance with new laws change in a predictable manner over time?
  • How do interventions to reduce alcohol-impaired driving interact with each other (e.g., 0.08% BAC laws and administrative license revocation)?
  • What effects do these interventions have on long-term changes in social norms about drinking and driving?
  • Do interventions to reduce alcohol-impaired driving reduce other forms of alcohol-related injury?
  • What are the cost-benefit, cost utility, and cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce alcohol impaired driving?

Study Characteristics

  • Each study evaluated 0.08% BAC laws in one or more of the 16 states that implemented laws before January 1, 1998.
  • Studies reviewed fatal injury crashes (8 studies) and fatal and nonfatal injury crashes (1 study).
  • All of the included studies analyzed data from police incident reports of crashes occurring on public roadways.
  • Post-law follow-up times for individual state laws ranged from 1 to 14 years (median, 5 years).
  • The states studied were geographically diverse with varying population densities.


Zaza S, Sleet DA, Elder RW, Shults RA, Dellinger A, Thompson RS. Response to letter to the editor. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2002;22:330-1.

Elder RW, Shults RA, Sleet DA. Do .08% blood alcohol concentration laws save lives?. Washington Post. 2001.

Sleet DA. Evidence based injury prevention: guidance for community action. In: Australian Third National Conference on Injury Prevention and Control. Australian Third National Conference on Injury Prevention and Control. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; 1999.