Webinar: Lowering the Per Se BAC for Driving to .05 g/dL

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. CT

In every state in the United States, except Utah, it is illegal per se (i.e., no other evidence needed) for adults to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or greater, for drivers younger than age 21 to drive with any positive alcohol concentration (BAC>.02), and for commercial drivers (trucks, buses, taxis, etc.) to drive with a BAC of .04 or greater. The World Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) all have policies supporting a .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or lower as the illegal limit per se for drivers aged 21 and older. At least 114 countries around the world have adopted a BAC limit lower than .08 g/dL. The rationale behind adopting a .05 BAC law include:

  • Virtually all drivers are impaired with regard to driving performance at .05 BAC.
  • The risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly at .05 BAC.
  • Lowering the illegal per se limit to .05 BAC is a proven effective countermeasure which has reduced alcohol-related traffic fatalities in other countries, most notably, Australia.
  • A .05 BAC is a reasonable standard to set.
  • The public supports levels below .08 BAC.
  • Further progress is needed in reducing alcohol-impaired driving. Progress in reducing impaired driving has stalled over the past 20 years. Lowering the BAC limit from .08 to .05 will serve as a general deterrent to all those who drink and drive. Such legislation typically reduces drinking drivers in fatal crashes at all BAC levels (BACs>.01; BACs>.05; BACs>.08; BACs>.15).

To date, only Utah has adopted this criminal per se statute in the United States and it took effect on December 31, 2018. A recent study conducted under a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found from a meta-analysis of studies around the world that lowering the BAC limit to .05 or lower was associated with an 11% decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatal crashes.

In this Webinar, you will learn more about the rationale behind a .05 BAC law, the level of impairment in driving performance at a .05 BAC, the recent experience with a .05 BAC law in Utah, and how the law is being enforced in Utah.

This webinar is available to AAAM Members (all member types) at no cost. There is a charge of $50 (USD) for non-members. Pre-registration is required.


JAMES C. FELL is currently a Principal Research Scientist with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago in the Bethesda, Maryland office. Mr. Fell worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 1969 to 1999 and has over 50 years of traffic safety and alcohol policy research experience.  While at NORC, Mr. Fell has completed an evaluation of a special DUI enforcement program for the Maryland Highway Safety Office, a comprehensive analysis of DUI in crashes, drinking drivers in roadside surveys, DUI arrests and focus groups with police and prosecutors in Miami-Dade County for the Miami Foundation and a survey of the public support for underutilized strategies that reduce traffic fatalities for the National Safety Council (NSC). He is currently involved in research projects on recreational marijuana legalization, the incidence of alcohol and drugs in traffic crash victims, graduated driver licensing for young drivers and alcohol monitoring of convicted driving under the influence (DUI) offenders. He has authored or coauthored over 170 publications in book chapters, scientific journals and conference proceedings.

He has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a long-time member of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM)(since 1969), including as past-president (1988), Board of Directors (1974-76; 1982-84; 2009-2011), Scientific Program Chairman (1976), Membership Chairman (1981), Treasurer (1985-86); Fellow (1994); three-time Best Scientific Paper award winner (1979, 1983 and 2010), recipient in 2016 of the Donald F. Huelke Lifetime Membership Award, and given the Award of Merit in 2019. Mr. Fell is currently President-Elect of the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs, and Traffic Safety (ICADTS) and the 2013 recipient of the ICADTS Widmark Award and the 2019 recipient of the ICADTS Haddon Award. He is a member of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

In 2015, Mr. Fell received the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) for sustained outstanding leadership in endeavors that significantly improve highway safety and the Kevin Quinlan Advocacy Award from the Maryland Highway Safety Office.


Dary Fiorentino’s professional interests are grouped in three broad categories: conducting research, teaching, and providing expert testimony in legal cases.

His primary research areas of interest include 1) the effects of age on a variety of physiological, sensory, perceptual, and cognitive dimensions, 2) standardized field sobriety tests, 3) alcohol pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, 4) cultural differences in drinking and drinking and driving, 5) fitness-for-duty and workplace alcohol and drug testing, and 6) life satisfaction and human flourishing, including life-workplace balance.

He is the author of several published articles and reports. He is the developer of the seated battery of sobriety tests that has been adopted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators to aid law enforcement officers detect boaters with impairment caused by blood alcohol concentrations of .08% and above. He helped develop The Virtual Bar, an internet application aimed at educating college students on how different factors—including age, gender, height, weight, and food—affect blood alcohol concentration.

He teaches classes in research methods and statistics. He particularly enjoys teaching topics in multiple regression, moderation and mediation, and structural equation modeling. Dr. Fiorentino has a profound belief in the usefulness of the scientific method to explore human issues, and that psychologists are uniquely equipped to study and positively affect many aspects of the human experience, provided they have the methodological and analytical skills to do so. He takes pride in providing some of those skills to his students.

Dr. Fiorentino provides expert testimony in legal cases in which alcohol and/or some drugs are suspected to have contributed to one or more adverse events. His testimony usually focuses on the relationships between alcohol dose and blood alcohol concentration (BAC), BAC and driving impairment, and driving impairment and crash risk.

He earned a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Human Factors, both from California State University Northridge, and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.

Tyson Skeen works for the Utah Prosecution Council as the Utah Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor (TSRP). He has been in this position since January 2016. As the TSRP, he is a subject matter expert and he trains and works as a resource for other prosecutors and law enforcement on impaired driving cases. Tyson received his bachelor’s degree from Utah Valley University and is a graduate from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. During law school, he clerked for the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office-District of Utah and the Criminal Division of the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Since being admitted to the Utah State Bar, he has practiced as both a defense attorney at the Utah County Public Defender Association and also as a prosecutor for Salt Lake City and as the Unit Chief for the City of West Jordan.


Major Steven Winward was hired by the Utah Highway Patrol in April of 1993.  He started his career as a trooper in Salt Lake County.  He became active in impaired driving enforcement.  This desire to remove impaired drivers from the road continued in his career as he promoted to several ranks and took on a variety of assignments in the Department.  During the time working as a trooper and a supervisor he continued his education culminating in getting a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Weber State University in 2017.  He is a graduate of the 274th session of the FBI National Academy.   Major Winward is currently assigned as the Assistant Superintendent of the Utah Highway Patrol.


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