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NTSB Suggests Lowering Blood Alcohol Limit For Drivers From .08 To .05 – Do You Agree? [Poll]

bernt rostad, flickr

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a new recommendation for the legal limit of blood alcohol content for drivers.

The NTSB recommended that all 50 states set the threshold at .05.

Some have come out in opposition to the proposed change.

Should the legal blood alcohol content for drivers be changed from .08 to .05?

The proposed change is part of the NTSB’s goal of reaching zero alcohol-impaired crashes.  NTSB.gov reports:

Each year in the United States, nearly 10,000 people are killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers and more than 173,000 are injured, with 27,000 suffer incapacitating injuries. In the last 30 years, nearly 440,000 people have died in alcohol related crashes.

Today, investigators cited research that showed that although impairment begins with the first drink, by 0.05 BAC, most drivers experience a decline in both cognitive and visual functions, which significantly increases the risk of a serious crash. Currently, over 100 countries on six continents have BAC limits set at 0.05 or lower. The NTSB has asked all 50 states to do the same.

The American Beverage Institute opposes the change.  Abionline.org says:

Over 70 percent of drunk driving fatalities are caused by drivers with BACs of 0.15 or higher (consumption of 6-7 drinks), and the average BAC of a drunk driver involved in a fatal crash is 0.16 percent—twice the current legal limit.

“This recommendation is ludicrous. Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” said Sarah Longwell, Managing Director of ABI.

Out of the over 32,000 U.S. traffic fatalities in 2011 (the most recent year for data), less than one percent were caused by drivers between 0.05 and 0.08 percent BAC. Lowering the legal limit is unlikely to lower the fatality rate further.

It’s no surprise that the NTSB would like to see the legal limit lowered and the the ABI doesn’t want it changed.

But what is in the public’s best interest?

Would lowering the BAC from .08 to .05 keep drunk drivers off the road?

Or would lowering the BAC only affect those who are already drinking responsibly?

The best legal limit for BAC is tough to pinpoint.

Focusing on drivers who register a BAC far over the legal limit is one of the keys to keeping our roads safe.  Tough and strict enforcement of the law for those in violation of “super drunk” laws should be a priority.

Follow Matt Milhouse on Facebook and Twitter.

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