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Should States Lower BAC Limits?

Should States Lower BAC Limits.jpgThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to decrease the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from .08% to .05%. The lower limit is about equivalent to two drinks for a 130 lb woman and three drinks for a 175 lb man. Lowering the limit could result in more social drinkers as well as alcohol abusers being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. It could also result in higher penalties for drivers convicted of driving with a BAC above .05%. 

"When it comes to alcohol use, we know that impairment begins before a person's BAC reaches 0.08 percent, the current legal limit in the United States," the agency said. "In fact, by the time it reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That is why states should lower BAC levels to 0.05- or even lower."

Proponents of lowering the legal drunk driving limit believe that drunk driving related deaths will decrease as a result. In addition to reducing BAC limits nationwide, advocates against drunk drivers also seek to expand the use of ignition interlock devices. Research shows that ignition interlock devices lower the subsequent arrest rate of drunk drivers by two-thirds.

Some states have had great success with interlocks. After approving strict interlock laws in 2007, Arizona and Louisiana both cut drunken driving deaths by more than 36% in just four years. This month, Tennessee joined them, becoming the 18th state to mandate interlocks for all convicted drunken drivers, even first offenders.

Several states require subsequent drunk driving offenders to install ignition interlock devices. Drunk drivers with high BAC levels are also required to install the device.

Opponents of the NTSB recommendation believe that there is no direct correlation resulting from a decreased BAC to .05%. According to the NTSB, drivers with a BAC between .05% to .08% represent just 8% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents. Opponents of the NTSB's recommendation also suggest the implementation of ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. They believe that such an implementation will reduce more subsequent drunk driving offenses than lowering the legal limit.

Other countermeasures are needed to ensure that people who are caught driving while impaired (DWI) do not do so again. For example, requiring ignition interlocks for all alcohol impaired-driving offenders can ensure that vehicles will not start if the driver has been drinking.

I invite you to contact my law office for a consultation regarding your drunk driving charge. I may be able to have the charge asserted against you reduced or completely dismissed. Call 734-274-6567 to speak with me directly.


Don't lower blood alcohol content to .05%: Our view Instead, broaden the use of ignition interlocks.

End Substance Impairment in Transportation

Feds Want to Lower Legal Driving Limit to One Drink

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