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Study Suggests Lower Blood-Alcohol Level Is Not as Effective as Advertised

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RALEIGH — North Carolina has some of the toughest laws against drinking and driving in the country. But a new study shows our state's low blood alcohol level limit may not be as effective as advertised.

In October of 1993, North Carolina lowered its legal blood alcohol concentration, known as the BAC, from .1 to .08. We are one of 16 states with the low standard.

But a recent study atUNCsuggests that the lower BAC has not kept drunk drivers off of North Carolina's roads.

Horrible crashes like the one in Johnston County where four people died are a constant reminder that alcohol and driving do not mix. But the big question is how to stop it.

UNC researcher Rob Foss was disappointed when his recent study failed to prove that lowering North Carolina's legal blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, did not lower the rate of drunk driving.

"Basically, what it seems to show is that lowering the BAC limit from .10 to .08 doesn't appear to have the kind of effect that we thought it would, that we hoped it would," said Foss.

The director of theGovernor's Highway Safety Task Force,Joe Parker, says North Carolina is one of the most progressive states in fighting drunk driving.

He says this study cannot be viewed in a vacuum.

"The public in North Carolina supports tough enforcement, and somebody that picks one particular aspect out and says 'that's not working' hasn't looked at the whole picture," said Parker.

The Governor's Task Force on DWI will start considering a proposal this week to lower the BAC to .07 for all drivers and to .05 for repeat offenders.

The big concern is that the study will prevent laws to lower the limit from passing.