The National Transportation Safety Board announced last month that it would push for states to lower their legal BAC limits. The move, a surprise to many experts, is aimed at lowering the legal limit from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.
In Missouri, the current limit for impaired driving is a 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration. Above that level drivers in the state are considered legally impaired while behind the wheel and are subject to arrest and conviction for DUI. The NTSB says that this level should be lower, reflecting the danger that even buzzed drivers present to the public.
Currently, every state in the country has a 0.08 legal limit. The NTSB says the U.S. should move in the direction of Europe and dozens of other countries that have lowered their legal limits to 0.05 percent or even lower. In fact, Sweden recently lowered the legal limit from 0.05 percent to 0.02 percent, a level unimaginable to many in America.
The goal of the lowered level, according to the NTSB, is a reduction in the number of drunk driving deaths that occur across the country every year. The NTSB says that it believes such a reduction would lead to a saving of between 500 and 800 lives each year. The agency says that America needs to get even stricter with drunk driving offenders and one good way to do that is through lower BAC levels.
Opponents of the measure have come out harshly against the proposal, saying that the recommendation targets the wrong people. Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving, typically a vocal proponent of such measures, has said that it is neutral about the proposed BAC decrease. MADD has said that it believes more efforts should be devoted to keeping repeat drunk drivers and those with incredibly high BAC levels off the road, and that the new proposal would instead target social drinkers, a group that is not responsible for most deadly accidents.
In fact, the numbers back up this belief. According to some surveys, the average BAC for a person involved in a fatal drunk driving accident is 0.15, almost twice the current legal limit. The evidence shows that it is not casual drinkers that pose serious harm to the public, but the uncontrolled alcoholics that should be further restricted.
Though all the percentages may not mean much to most Missourians, the real world impact of such a BAC drop would require a serious change in drinking behavior. Under the current law, an average 180-pound male can consume four drinks in an hour before hitting the 0.08 limit. Under the new rules, this would drop to between two and three drinks. For women or smaller men the number of drinks drops further still. Were such a change to go into effect there would have to be serious alterations in the way people drink while out at social gatherings or else they would face the prospect of a drunk driving arrest.
If you’ve had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri DWI defense lawyer capable of aggressively protecting your interests, contact our St. Louis DWI law firm today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: “NTSB recommends lowering blood alcohol level that constitutes drunken driving,” by Tom Costello, published at NBCNews.com.