by Arthur Elk
In a report released earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all 50 states should lower the threshold for drunk driving from .08 to .05 blood alcohol content (BAC). According to the Washington Post, “That’s about one drink for a woman weighing less than 120 pounds, two for a 160-pound man.”
The board said levels as low as .01 were found to affect performance on driving-related skills. They also cited a 2012 study which found “significant cognitive decrements in speed of information processing, reductions in working memory, and increases in errors of commission at 0.048 BAC.”
The number of alcohol-related highway fatalities dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to 9,878 in 2011, according to the NTSB. However, they feel the rates have stagnated and feel lowering the BAC rate would save about 500 to 800 lives each year:
Over the past three decades, the number of lives lost per year in alcohol-related traffic crashes has dropped substantially. However, most of this reduction took place during the 1980s and early 1990s; since then, progress in this safety area has been relatively slow. Since 2000, nearly 150,000 people have lost their lives in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, and these crashes continue to account for over 30 percent of all traffic fatalities. — NTSB, “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving“
The last move from .10 to .08 BAC levels took 21 years for all states to implement, with the last state adopting the standard in 2004. That move was prompted in part by an Appropriations Act that included the landmark provision that states must enact .08 BAC laws by 2004 or begin losing federal highway construction funds. Prior to the enactment of this bill, only nineteen states had enacted .08 BAC
Response to the report has been mixed. So far, safety groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and AAA have declined to endorse the proposed .05 limit The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while not endorsing the board’s recommendation, said in a statement that they “…will work with any state that chooses to implement a .05 BAC law to gather further information on that approach.”
At Elk & Elk, we have seen the serious consequences of drunk driving far too many times. There is no reason we should allow 10,000 people a year to die when we have the ability to pass laws to prevent such senseless deaths. If anybody has more than one drink, they should not be behind the wheel of an automobile.
If .05 will save lives, let’s do it now.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, we will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our Ohio auto accident attorneys are available 24/7 to serve you. We offer free consultations and never charge anything unless you recover.