A measure has been proposed to lower the legal blood-alcohol content for motor vehicle operators. The proposed limit seems to be gaining support in Congress.
Our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys understand that the National Transportation Safety Board is urging the federal government and all 50 states to back a measure that would reduce the legal BAC threshold from the current standard of 0.08 percent down to 0.05 percent.
The proposal was prompted by the fact that over the last 10 years, the number of DUI fatalities nationwide has hovered around 10,000 people annually. Impairment from alcohol plays a role in about one out of every three fatal crashes in the U.S.
In the last three decades, nearly 450,000 have perished due to alcohol-impaired driving. The board estimates that reducing the BAC by 0.03 percentage points would have the effect of saving 500 to 800 lives annually.
With a legal threshold of 0.08 percent, a typical male weighing 180 pounds could presumably consume three to four alcoholic beverages in a little over an hour, and only barely reach that threshold (per a BAC calculator created by the University of Oklahoma.) When we reduce that threshold to 0.05 percent, that same person will only be able to consume two to three drinks before reaching that threshold.
The NTSB is an independent agency that serves to investigate transportation accidents and also advocates on issues of transportation safety. It can’t enact policy on its own, but it is a powerful advocacy arm of the federal government.
The last time the federal government took action to reduce the legal BAC was during the Clinton years, when it was slashed from 0.15 percent to 0.08 percent. The government threatened to withhold highway dollars to those states that failed to comply. The last one finally did in 2004.
Since the 1980s, the number of alcohol-related deaths has fallen significantly, from 20,000 in 1980 down to 9,900 in 2011. But it’s still too high. And these figures don’t reflect those who suffer severe and sometimes lifelong injuries inflicted by the carelessness of a drunk driver.
Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths, May 15, 2013, By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN