For years the benchmark to legally drive a car was always below .08 in all 50 states, anything above that was considered to be illegal drunk driving. Recently however, the National Transportation Safety Board is considering changing the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit down to .05 for drunk driving. Studies show that signs of intoxication first develop before the BAC level even reaches .08. Tests have been conducted to see just how soon someone can reach .08 by taking into account the subjects body weight, how long they have drank, how much they have to drink and what their stomach content is (if they had anything to eat recently). With the current laws in place, a 180lb. male could have four drinks within an hour long period and reach the .08 level. With the .05 limit however, they would only be able to have two to three drinks in that time.
Law enforcement Corporal Michael Rose explains that many people end up drinking more than their body can metabolize and therefore their short term memory and their reflexes are all slowed down so they don’t have the quick response time necessary to avoid an accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board views drunk driving injuries and fatalities as crimes and not as accidents. They believe that by creating a new DWI standard of .05 there will be less alcohol-related fatalities out on the road. Over 100 other countries have already adopted the .05 law and have a lower legal limit when it comes to drunk driving. The United States would be following suit in that. Sarah Longwell, the managing director of the American Beverage Institute stood up saying that just by moving the DWI law down a few percentages you will not be able to successfully stop the hardcore drinkers out there from getting behind the wheel.
The goal of this initiative is to hopefully eliminate drunk driving accidents because alcohol-related fatalities can account for approximately a third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. In fact, over the last 30 years more than 440,000 U.S. people have lost their lives due to impaired driving. The safety board is speculating that with a .05 BAC standard, they may be able to save anywhere between 500 and 800 lives each year. It is important to remember that this new DWI standard of .05 is only a recommendation from the safety board- ultimately it is up the state governments as to whether they will adopt the law for their area. The states are able to set their own BAC standards and it will be interesting to see who adopts this new standard.
If you are currently facing a DWI charge or have been arrested under the current DWI .08 threshold, the court is not likely to be forgiving. Contact a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer from my firm today for aggressive representation.
To learn more about this drunk driving initiative, read the full CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/14/us/ntsb-blood-alcohol/index.html