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Effect of Lowering the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit to 0.03 Among Hospitalized Trauma Patients in Southern Taiwan: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

Authors Huang CY, Chou SE, Su WT, Liu HT, Hsieh TM, Hsu SY, Hsieh HY, Hsieh CH

Received 21 February 2020

Accepted for publication 20 May 2020

Published 16 June 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 571—581


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Kent Rondeau

Chun-Ying Huang,1,* Sheng-En Chou,1,* Wei-Ti Su,1 Hang-Tsung Liu,1 Ting-Min Hsieh,1 Shiun-Yuan Hsu,1 Hsiao-Yun Hsieh,2 Ching-Hua Hsieh2

1Department of Trauma Surgery, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University and College of Medicine, Kaohsiung 83301, Taiwan; 2Department of Plastic Surgery, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University and College of Medicine, Kaohsiung 83301, Taiwan

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Ching-Hua Hsieh
Department of Plastic Surgery, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taiwan
Tel +886-7-7327476

Background: In June 2013, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving was lowered from 0.05 to 0.03 mg/mL in Taiwan. Thus, this study aimed to assess the epidemiological changes in terms of drinking among drivers in southern Taiwan before and after the law was imposed.
Methods: Only patients who had undergone the BAC test at the emergency room were included in the study. The patients during the study period before (n = 2735) and after (n = 2413) the implementation of the law were selected for comparison. Drunk patients were defined as those who had a BAC ≥ 0.005 and were considered as driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Meanwhile, driving while intoxicated (DWI) was defined as a BAC ≥ 0.05, which was the level adopted in the new law.
Results: Since the BAC limit lowered to 0.03, the number of DUI patients significantly decreased from 340 (12.4%) to 171 (7.1%), and that of DWI patients significantly reduced from 273 (10.0%) to 146 (6.1%) based on the alcohol test. In addition, after the implementation of the law, the number of associated injuries did not significantly decrease from that before the law was implemented in patients involved in alcohol-related crashes.
Conclusion: After lowering the legal BAC limit from 0.05 to 0.03, responsiveness to the change in law was observed among the studied population. However, such responsiveness may not be observed in some citizens who may need special interventions to help reduce their behavior of drinking and driving.

Keywords: alcohol, blood alcohol concentration, BAC, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, driving while intoxicated, DWI, alcohol-related crashes, law sanction, mortality

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