Everyone knows that drunk driving is dangerous. Too often, however, people assume that because they are under the legal limit, it is safe to get behind the wheel. According to a recent study, this sort of buzzed driving – driving after a few drinks, but still under the legal .08 blood alcohol content limit – is a significant cause of serious car accidents in the U.S.

Dr. David Phillips, a sociologist at the University of California at San Diego, recently published a study regarding the incidence of car accidents caused by buzzed drivers. He discovered that even drivers with blood alcohol levels as low as .01 percent are much more likely to be responsible for fatal car accidents than sober drivers.

The study, which was published in the journal Injury Prevention, examined federal data collected between 1994 and 2011. During that time, there were a total of 570,731 fatal car accidents in the U.S. Phillips focused on those crashes where drivers were found to have BACs between .01 and .07 percent. He discovered that those drivers with BACs of .01 percent are about 46 percent more likely than sober drivers to be the sole cause of a serious car accident. This percentage continues to rise as drivers’ blood alcohol content increases.

The reality is, of course, that there is no magic boundary that determines whether someone is or is not safe to drive. As this study demonstrates, even having one or two drinks can adversely affect a person’s ability to drive safely. This study is likely to spark even more debate regarding recent calls by safety advocates that states lower their legal BAC limits from .08 to .05. Although even a small amount of alcohol can impact a person’s performance behind the wheel, many suggest that setting the limit at .05 is a good compromise. Others, however, have argued against these proposals, suggesting that the lower limit would make activities that many people enjoy – such as having a glass of wine with dinner – impractical.

It remains unclear whether this study is likely to affect policy decisions on these issues, but it certainly provides food for thought.

If you have been serious injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering and more. For more information, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney, who can help you understand your rights.