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With each drink consumed, a person's blood alcohol concentration increases. Although outward appearances vary, virtually all drivers are substantially impaired at .08 BAC . Laboratory and on-road research shows that the vast majority of drivers, even experienced drivers, are significantly impaired at .08 with regard to critical driving tasks such as braking, steering, lane changing, judgment and divided attention. Decrements in performance for drivers at .08 BAC are on the order of 40-60% worse than when they are at .00 BAC. Research findings suggest that the most crucial aspect of impairment is the reduction in the ability to handle several tasks at once. This skill is precisely what driving a motor vehicle requires.

The risk of being in a motor vehicle crash also increases as the BAC level rises. The risk of being in a crash rises gradually with each BAC level, but then rises very rapidly after a driver reaches or exceeds .08 BAC compared to drivers with no alcohol in their system. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that the relative risk of being killed in a single vehicle crash for drivers at BACs between .05 and .09 is 11 times that of drivers with no alcohol in their system.