The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that the blood alcohol content levels be lowered from 0.08% to 0.5% in charging motorists with driving under the influence.
There are many factors that affect one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) including gender, weight, physical condition, medications and food. For a 140 pound woman, she would have to drink about 2 drinks in a 4 minute period to obtain a .05% BAC. For a man of 180 pounds, he would have to drink three or more drinks to measure at 0.05%
While the BAC levels for drunken driving is set by each state, the federal government is pressuring the states to adopt new standards.
Traditionally, there has been great opposition to lowering the BAC limit. The American Beverage Institute that represents 8,000 restaurants says that the change in the law would be targeting moderate drinkers while more than 70% of drunken-driving fatalities are caused by drivers which twice the current legal limit.
Compared with many other western countries, the U.S. has one of the highest DUI limits. Our neighbor, Canada, has the same standard as the U.S. at 0.08%. However, France, Greece and Germany and many other European nations have a 0.05% limit and some have a zero limit for young drivers.
Certainly a lower DUI limit would save lives in Washington state. It is estimated that by lowering the limit to 0.05%, the risk of a car accident would be reduced by half.
According to Deborah Hersman, chairman of the NTSB, “This [lowering legal limits] is critical because impaired driving remains one of the biggest killers.”
There are other measures that government can take to save lives and discourage drunken driving including:
- Immediately suspending a person’s driver’s license when arrested for drunk driving
- Impound a person’s car upon a DUI arrest
- Create specialized drunk driving courts that can hear cases quickly
- Document the places where a drunk driver drank before an accident
- Widely adopt ignition interlock devices.