Few know drunken driving laws

Many think legal blood alcohol limit twice what it actually is

Nov 30, 1999 - Nearly four out of five Americans surveyed know little about their own state's drunken driving laws.


"Seventy-eight percent of the drivers who were polled did not know what constituted drunk driving," said John Lawn, chairman of the Century Council. The group surveyed 1,004 adults over the age of 18 in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The nation's leading alcoholic beverage producers fund the council.

The typical respondent put the maximum blood alcohol limit at .20 percent. In fact, 17 states and the District of Columbia use .08 percent, and 33 states allow .10 percent. Many drinkers pass out before reaching a blood alcohol level of .20 percent.

"Most people who are arrested usually say that they have had one or two beers or drinks," said U.S. Park Police Capt. Bill Lynch.

It takes at least twice as many beers to reach .08 percent. However the survey found that just one in five could identify the number of 12-ounce beers that can be consumed in an hour to hit that level.

In theory, a 160-pound person can drink four 12-ounce bottles of "average strength" beer in an hour before his or her blood alcohol level reaches .08 percent and five before it gets to .10 percent. After 48 ounces in the first hour, that same "average" person need drink only 12 more ounces in the next hour to have a blood alcohol level of .09 percent.

Only one in six of those surveyed knew that 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits contain the same amount of alcohol as a standard serving or beer or wine.

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