The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is eyeing the number of
car accidents caused by drunk drivers each year and looking for a way to bring it down.
One proposal that has been sitting at the top of their recommended policies
– although it has not yet been put forth as an official petition
– is reducing the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit across
the nation from 0.08% to just 0.05%. NTSB has not pushed this recommendation
to legislators yet because, as it admits, the data is still out between
how high of a BAC actually starts to impair a driver enough to make them
unreasonably dangerous behind the wheel.
Why Lowering the BAC Limit May Be Unreasonable
Everyone wants to hear that there were no
DUI-related accidents in a day, week, month, or year – it is objectively good news –
but dropping the BAC limit may not be the right solution.
Here’s a few reasons why the BAC limit might not be lowered:
Inaccurate breathalyzer tests: The first line of “defense” that law enforcement uses when
arrested people for
driving under the influence is their handheld
breathalyzers. These devices are notoriously inaccurate and can produce BAC reports
well over the actual concentration in a person’s system, sometimes
for reasons as simple as burping before puffing a breath. If the BAC limit
is dropped nearly 40%, it is that much more likely that a faulty breathalyzer
will land someone unjustly in jail and stripped of their license.
Fear of money-grabs: Staunch opponents of the proposition to lower the federal BAC limit see
it as nothing more than attempt to get more money from motorists to put
into the state’s coffers. Lower BAC limit equates directly to more
arrests, which means more money collected through charges and convictions.
Is it feasible that this could be an unstated ulterior motive?
One drink & drunk: People’s bodies react to alcohol differently, based on a variety
of factors, such as age, weight, sex, body fat percentage, genetics, and
much more. With a 0.08% BAC limit, it is nearly impossible for any adult,
regardless of the factors that influence their alcohol tolerance or lack
thereof, to become drunk after one drink. If the BAC limit is dropped
to 0.05%, it is entirely possible for someone to have one drink at dinner,
feel fine, but break the law if they try to drive home. Would changing
the limit unreasonably harm the restaurant and service industries who
profit from selling clients a single drink with their meals each night?
Consider the Alternatives & Defenses
In addition to proposing a lowered BAC limit, the NTSB has toyed with the
idea of increasing penalties for DUIs across the country. Paired with
more law enforcement officers on the roads conducting more
sobriety checkpoints, this change could act as a strong disincentive to drunk driving without
having to drop the BAC limit.
If you live in Ohio and have been charged for driving while intoxicated,
you always have the right to defend yourself and your driving privilege
from the harsh
DUI penalties used by the criminal justice system. Call
937.660.8429 to schedule a
free case review with Gounaris Abboud, LPA and our Dayton DUI lawyers today.