Potential Changes In Drunk Driving Laws

The National Transportation Safety Board has no authority to compel states to adopt its recommendations concerning traffic laws. That said, many legislators take it seriously when the safety organization suggests that hundreds or thousands of car accident deaths could be prevented with a change in the law. The NTSB has made several suggestions concerning drinking and driving. Perhaps foremost among them is a recommendation that the legal limit for blood alcohol content be dropped from .08 to .05. Currently, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have a .08 limit for drivers over the age of 21.

The NTSB has cited several factors in making this recommendation. One NTSB member pointed out that most other industrialized nations already have a BAC limit less than .08. The group also cited an estimate of 500 to 800 lives saved per year if every jurisdiction were to adopt a .05 BAC standard. According to NTSB data, almost 33 percent of all traffic deaths are the result of driving under the influence.

There are other methods of reducing alcohol related traffic deaths, other than lowering the BAC limit. The NTSB has also recommended harsher punishment for DUI offenders. Furthermore, the group is advocating for expanded use of technology such as a tool that can detect alcohol odors in the air. It has also called for an acceleration of the research into cars that can determine if a driver is over the legal limit and prevent the vehicle from starting.

Alcohol and safe driving do not mix. The decision to lower the BAC limit will likely come slowly, if at all. The process of reducing the limit from .10 to .08 took many years.

Source: ABC News, “NTSB Wants to Toughen Alcohol Limits for Drivers,” by David Kerley, 14 May 2013