Is .08 A Low Enough Standard For DUI?

by Ladyblogger on June 3, 2013

According to current laws, any driver who is pulled over with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above will be charged with a DUI. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a recommendation for the legal limit to be lowered to .05. Changing the BAC is controversial because there are several companies that fear they would lose too much business, including restaurants. However, it is important for lawmakers to consider the widespread implications of keeping the BAC at its current level.

Should the Legal Limit be Lowered Nationally?

According to the NTSB’s research, lowering the legal BAC by .03 will reduce the risk of DUI-related traffic accidents by 50 percent. Sadly, the NTSB is only in a position to make recommendations, and lawmakers do not have to honor their research. In fact, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has indicated that they have no desire to push for a lower national BAC because they do not believe that there are any states that would welcome the change.

DUI-Related Fatalities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has widely acknowledged that drivers who are under the influence are responsible for more than 30 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities each year. However, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) insists that 70 percent of those deaths are caused by individuals who have a BAC of .15 or higher. Because of this, the ABI believes that there is no good reason to lower the legal limit. Unfortunately, this standpoint is clearly intended to protect the ABI’s financial interests instead of lives. Therefore, drivers and passengers in high-risk states such as Pennsylvania and Texas will continue to suffer at the hands of intoxicated individuals. Hopefully the DUI laws in PA and many other states, will continue to get more strict and bring about safer statistics.

Legal Limits Around the World

Europe has a BAC limit of .05 for drivers, and this was partially the inspiration for the NTSB’s recommendation. Additionally, .08 is the highest legal limit that is permitted by any country that enforces anti-DUI laws, and there are several nations, including Brazil and Japan, that have a zero tolerance policy. However, .05 and .08 are the most common limits worldwide, so there is a global precedent for keeping the U.S. BAC where it is.

Will the Law be Changed?

In 1982, there were more than 21,000 alcohol related traffic fatalities. At that time, the legal BAC was .10, and this caused the NTSB to recommend lowering the BAC to .08. Over the next 12 years, each individual state slowly began to comply with this recommendation. By 2010, the number of DUI-related fatalities was cut in half, and this has almost certainly been assisted by the .02 reduction in the legal limit. Therefore, it is easy to see why the NTSB wants the legal BAC to be reduced again, and it also seems clear that their research is more indicative of reality than the statistics that are offered by the ABI. However, without the support of the GHSA, it is unlikely that a change will be made at any point in the near future.

The U.S. has a history of dragging its heels on social and legal matters, but the facts speak for themselves, and it is obvious that lowering the BAC would save thousands of lives. Hopefully, the financial interests of groups such as the ABI will be set aside in the future, and the BAC will be lowered to encourage people to avoid drinking and driving.

Writer Anthony Joseph enjoys shining light on tough issues that go on in the country. Steven E. Kellis is a drunk driving attorney with 20 years of jury trial experience under his belt, and knows the DUI laws in PA better than most. As a former DUI prosecutor, he knows the tactics of both sides in the court room, which gives him the ultimate edge.

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