Should the Feds Lower the Blood-Alcohol Level for DWI Arrest?

by KellyK on June 11, 2013

During the past two decades each state in the United States has reduced the blood alcohol content level for legally impaired driving to .08. This was done in concert with a drive by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to reduce the level from a traditional .14 BAC, which was in place for many years.

The capacity for increased speeds that came along with high-performance improvements for vehicles necessitated an adjustment in the intoxication level, and the number of traffic fatalities involved in alcohol-related accidents was growing significantly. Too many innocent youngsters, many with minimal driving skills, were dying on the roadways due to impaired driving.
Federal DUI Involvement
Driving legislation has traditionally been a legal area assigned to state law. Each state adopted its own approach to comprehensive enforcement against driving while intoxicated, making the behavior felonious after multiple infractions and aggravating circumstances. That is why anyone charged with a DUI needs to have a local attorney, such as, for instance, in North Carolina, the Powers McCartan DUI defense team.
The federal government has stayed out of the argument and allowed states’ rights to combat the problem. However, in the contemporary era of routine governmental overreach, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the legal operating blood alcohol content level should be lowered to .05, which is now the typical standard for reckless driving.
Impairment levels of below .05 for adult non-commercial drivers have not been chargeable by use of the breathalyzer because it is not material evidence. Officers do have the authority to request a warrant for blood testing if they think the suspect is under the influence of controlled substances.
Federal Legal Reasoning
The NTSB does not have the authority to establish this reduction by order or decree. The primary reasoning is that fatality rates are higher than in other industrialized countries, most of which have already established .05 as the legal impairment threshold. In the United States that must be done by Congress on a federal level, which may be problematic.
The issue will be a political hot potato, including restricting highway funds to the states that do not comply. Congressional members live in their home states, too, and this BAC level will give the police carte blanch authority to arrest for any impairment in addition to their testimony.
Getting Legislation Through Congress
Congress normally rubber stamps most legislation because all presented legislation is assessed for passing ability because of time restraint. Legislation must be compiled and presented in subcommittee before any reduction movement can occur, outside of preceding public discussion.
MADD has had very little to say about the suggestion because they remember how expensive and difficult the initial reduction process became. They worked nearly 20 years in getting all 50 states to establish legislation, and still rely on contributions from the state supporters. Members of Congress have the same concerns.
Everyone would like to see fewer deaths on the highway, but there is already much discussion about governmental non-interference rights with respect to a number of other issues currently before Congress. The last thing the representative body wants is more action restricting individual movement.
Politically, many people think the idea is just another method of procuring new offenders who will become compelled clients in a legal industry that is already impacted too much by fine collection for the states. If Congress acts on this recommendation, they may be doing so at their own career peril and careerism is a serious issue with individual members of Congress.
Everyone has a strong opinion on DUI arrests and paralegal Kelly Kovacic wants to keep others informed of the latest discussions in congress regarding BAC levels. The problems that arise from drunk driving are so serious that being charged with a DUI could be overwhelming.  However, if you are charged in NC, the Powers McCartan DUI defense team understands that each DUI case is different and they will work tirelessly to get the answers for your defense.

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