Federal Agency Recommends Lowering Drunk Driving Blood Alcohol Content

drunk drivingNTSB Suggests Lowering Blood Alcohol Content Limits to Prevent Drunk Driving Deaths

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended on Tuesday, May 14th, that states across the US lower their legal blood alcohol limit from 0.08 to 0.05, to help prevent drunk driving accidents.

Currently, all 50 states have the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit at 0.08. If a driver is found to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher, they can be ticketed, arrested, or prosecuted for drunk driving.

According to the NTSB, 10,000 people each year die in drunk driving related accidents, and 170,000 are injured. While national statistics for drunk driving deaths and accidents are dropping, the NTSB suggests that lowering the national BAC would save an additional 1,000 lives annually.

“Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.”

Most countries in Europe, including Russia, as well as South America and Australia, have already instituted BAC limits of 0.05.Australia’s drunk driving related fatalities fell 5-18% when they lowered their BAC.

The NTSB reports that 0.05, although a much lower BAC percentage is the threshold at which a person becomes impaired by alcohol. At 0.05 percent BAC, a person begins to have difficulties with depth perception and visual functions. At 0.07, cognitive abilities are impaired. At 0.08% BAC, the risk of having an accident while driving increases more than 100%.

However, the NTSB has made recommendations to lower the national BAC before – last time, when they recommended lowering BAC from .10 to .08, it took states 21 years to adopt the suggestion. The National Transportation Safety Board is not a legislative body, and can only make safety recommendations rather than laws.

Studies show that each year, 4 million people admit to drunk driving.

NTSB Drunk Driving Recommendation Meets Resistance

Restaurant trade groups have come out in protest of the NTSB’s drunk driving recommendation.

“This recommendation is ludicrous,” said Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute, which represents more than 8,000 restaurants nationally. “Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.”

If the BAC is lowered to 0.05, bar and restaurant patrons will need to be very careful of how many drinks they consume in one sitting. A woman weighing 120 lbs reaches a BAC of 0.05 after only one drink, while a man weighing 160 lbs reaches that BAC at just two drinks.

“Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel,” Longwell added.

“Hardcore drunk drivers,” as Longwell suggested, do cause the most serious drunk driving accidents nationally. According to the NTSB’s findings, while cognitive impairment occurs at 0.08% BAC, 70% of drunk driving fatalities are caused by drivers with BACs of 0.15% or more.

The NTSB made other recommendations, such as stricter enforcement of interlock devices in convicted drunk drivers’ cars. Many people convicted of drunk driving have lied about whether or not they owned a vehicle or would ever drive again to get out of using the interlock devices. The board recommended that the National Highway Safety Administration develop a grant program to encourage states to ensure all convicted drunk drivers actually use the devices.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Drunk Driving Charges

If you or a loved one has been charged with drunk driving, whether first offense or felony DUI, contact a South Carolina DUI Lawyer at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Contact us for help. 803.252.4800.

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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