According to this story in the Morris Herald, drunk driving related fatalities have dropped from 534 to 300, a decrease of 43%, since Illinois lowered its legal limit from 0.10 BAC to 0.08.
What the story doesn’t mention, is that during those years, Illinois has also made a great many changes to its drunk driving laws, greatly increasing the penalties for repeat drunk driving and requiring ignition interlocks for even first time offenders. In addition, local municipalities began to impound (and sometimes forfeit) vehicles used in drunk driving and driving while suspended or revoked due to DUI cases. Oftentimes, the impoundment fee alone is equivalent to several months car payments.
In addition to that, in the interim 20 years, there have been many social changes that have probably contributed to this drop, such as an increased awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, a dramatic decrease in bars and drinking establishments, and a general increase in healthier lifestyles.
Having said that, I am sure that the drop to 0.08 made a significant difference. It probably meant that many people passed on that extra drink or two that they might have had in 1996. And that extra drink or two can make all the difference.
What do you think?