One-Fifth of Drinkers Say They Drove Near or Over Alcohol Limit

Dec 17, 2013 2:46 pm ET

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- A fifth of U.S. motorists who drink say they’ve driven at least once in the past year when they thought their alcohol level might’ve been close to the legal limit or above it, a safety group said.

About 19.5 percent said they took the wheel under such circumstances, according to a statement today from the American Automobile Association, based on a survey by the group’s Foundation for Traffic Safety. That compares with about 14 percent in the last two annual surveys.

Almost all American drivers disapprove of drinking and driving. The most recent AAA survey found that 96 percent of American drivers believe it’s somewhat or completely unacceptable for people to drive when they think they might have had too much to drink.

The findings reflect a “do-as-I-say, not as-I-do attitude about alcohol,” according to the statement.

The survey also showed that 68 percent support requiring new cars to have built-in devices that would test drivers to make sure they are sober before the ignition starts. About 63 percent approve of lowering the legal blood-alcohol-content limit 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent.

AAA advises drinkers to stay overnight, designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a taxi rather than get behind the wheel impaired.

The survey results are based on responses from more than 2,000 licensed motorists who reported driving in the past 30 days, the association said. Respondents were 16 or older.

--Editors: Dan Kraut, Dan Reichl