On Tuesday, the NTSB made recommendations that states lower the legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) for drinking and driving. It currently holds at .08 percent nationwide, as it has since the years of the Clinton administration. Now, the 5 member board would like to see it lowered to .05 percent.
The impetus for the change: the rate of DUI related deaths and accidents just isn’t budging. While the numbers aren’t as high as they were, say, in the 1980′s, when approx. 20,000 persons died annually due to drinking and driving incidents, the current number, 10,000 per year, remains unacceptably high. This number doesn’t appear to be faltering via any legal deterrent or public information campaign currently in place.
The United States is one of a very few countries in the industrialized world that allows a legal BAC this high – Canada and Iraq are others. Europe, Australia, and South America enforce the lower .05 percentage. Some, i.e. Australia, saw a decline in DWI related accidents upon doing so.
There is some opposition to the potential new regulation, however, namely from certain members of the beverage industry. This recommendation is ludicrous,” said Sarah Longwell, managing director of The American Beverage Institute. ”Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior. Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”
An NTSB study shows that if the U.S dropped its BAC, as many as 1,000 lives a year could be saved. The last move from .10 percent, to .08 percent, took 21 years for each state to implement.