In the vast majority of states, a driver is presumed to be legally drunk if they have more than .08 blood alcohol content. Indeed, those who drive over this legal limit should probably face consequences, as in the vast majority of people, a .08 BAC will make it difficult if not impossible to drive safely.
However, no one should assume that .08 is a magic number in the sense that a person is able to drive safely and soberly as long as they don’t blow over .08. The reality is that even one drink has an effect on the ability of driver to operate a vehicle safely.
For instance, someone who has .02 BAC will ordinarily show some loss of judgment and will not be able to follow moving objects with his or her eyes as easily. Moreover, the person may not be able to multi-task effectively. At .05, a person is not going to be able to respond effectively to an emergent situation on the road.
Given these facts, it is no wonder that some experts are advocating lowering the legal limit to .05. No matter how one feels about a lower legal limit, however, the important thing Portlanders should remember is that the question after a drunk driving accident is not whether the other driver tested at more than .08 BAC.
Instead, the question is whether or not that person was under the influence of alcohol to the point that he or she no longer had good control over his or her vehicle and thus caused an otherwise preventable car accident. If due to any amount of alcohol a person hurts another motorist or, for that matter, a bicyclist or pedestrian, then the victim may have the right to pursue compensation for losses.