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Most Americans don’t know legal limit for drunk driving

ARLINGTON, Va. – The holiday season is a time of year filled with tradition, but, unfortunately, one holiday tradition in the United States is an increase in drunk driving. A new national survey shows most Americans (63 percent) do not know the legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol concentration for drunk driving, which is the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia., a national not-for-profit that leads the fight against drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by America’s leading distillers, commissioned the national survey. The survey also found the majority (63 percent) of Americans reported they rarely or never use alternative transportation options, like ride-share services, taxi services or public transportation, when they go out socially.

“Educating the public on the law and how to make informed decisions is especially critical during the holidays due to the spikes in drunk driving,” said Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of “And while it is certainly everyone’s own responsibility to make sure they get home safely and responsibly, it takes all of us. So if you think a friend might have had too much to drink, step up and step in to make sure they don’t drive drunk.”

Americans agree with Blackman -- 66 percent said they believe it is everyone’s own personal responsibility to address impaired driving, according to the survey.

However, Americans do not believe personal responsibility is the only way to combat impaired driving.

The survey also found that 81 percent of Americans report they feel confident in social settings to help a friend or guest, who may have over-consumed, get home safely. Slightly more than half (54 percent) say they have actually stopped someone from driving or getting in the car with someone who has over-consumed. This gap suggests perhaps many Americans are not confident in their ability to assess whether someone can safely operate a motor vehicle.

What are Americans looking for to gauge people’s level of impairment? Among adults who are confident to intervene, most rely on visual and auditory signs, including slurred speech (71 percent), impaired coordination (71 percent) and aggressive behavior (64 percent). Additionally, nearly seven out of 10 American adults (67 percent) say they rely on the number of drinks consumed to know when to stop someone from driving after drinking.

“Working in law enforcement for over 37 years, I’ve learned how much misinformation and misunderstanding there is among the general public around alcohol consumption and BAC limits,” said Steven Casstevens, chief of police in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and 4th Vice President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “There are a number of ways to assess an individual’s level of intoxication. While keeping track of the number of drinks consumed is a good start, it’s certainly not the only route to take. It is imperative that we take it upon ourselves to learn what impacts our own individual BAC levels and make smart, responsible choices before we share the roads and highways with others this holiday season.”

In light of the survey’s findings, the organization launched this week a national awareness campaign online and across social media platforms, called “#HolidayResponsibly,” to help educate Americans about how alcohol impacts individuals differently and provide tips to empower adults to intervene before someone gets behind the wheel drunk.

The survey also includes specific data for 11 cities across the country: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Francisco and Seattle.

Learn more about how drinking impacts you individually at, and join the conversation using #HolidayResponsibly on Twitter.


About the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( is a national not-for-profit that leads the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Edrington; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; and Pernod Ricard USA. For more than 23 years, has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families and communities together to guide a lifetime of conversations around alcohol responsibility. To learn more, please visit us at

Survey Methodology

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( commissioned a survey of American adults, regarding their opinions and attitudes about impaired driving and drinking and driving decisions including helping someone get home safely. This summary represents the findings of the online survey conducted via Toluna’s Global Omnibus. The survey was conducted online in the contiguous United States among a national sample of 1,017 adults ages 21 and older. The survey was completed Sept. 9 through 11, 2015.  The Global Omnibus Study was fielded for quota based on census numbers for the variables of age, gender and region. The data was further weighted on age, gender, region, education, household income, race/ethnicity and attitudinal and behavioral propensity scores.


Georgia Cassady,


[email protected]

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