National Transportation Safety Board Recommends Lowering Legal Drunk Driving Limit

By Jacob Brown | May 15, 2013
Not wholly shocking, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all states lower what legally constitutes drunk driving from a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 to 0.05 percent. The NTSB says that about 10,000 people die each year from alcohol-related car accidents, and 170,000 are injured. This would be one way to lower those numbers, the board believes. "This recommendation is ludicrous," said Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute, in an interview with NBC News. "Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior."
Further, she said, it would do nothing to prevent the binge-drinking, blackout drunks who create the accidents from continuing what they're already doing. The legal limit of 0.08 was set because that's when one's cognitive abilities start to erode and because the federal government won't give states any additional road funding if they don't have that number. States are technically free to set whatever number they want, but that doesn't mean they have to get federal funding. When Australia dropped its legal limit to 0.05, alcohol-related traffic fatalities dropped by five to 18 percent. However, U.S. Census statistics show that just 5.7 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents involved blood-alcohol levels of 0.01 to 0.07. This is a relatively scant number. And it seems nearly as Draconian as those states that still have laws preventing alcohol purchases on Sundays. The NTSB says that the initiative would save about 1,000 lives per year if it were to go into effect in all 50 states. We think it might be a little optimistic. We are not advocates for driving under the influence of anything more than happiness and enthusiasm. But there needs to be a real cost-benefit analysis to how effective this would be, if local police forces are equipped to handle a potential uptick in DUIs, and what the cost is on taxpayers. The last time a proposal for amended drinking laws came up, it pushed the legal age from 18 to 21 years old. That took 21 years for each state to implement, which might be as long as this recommendation takes with all the bureaucracy out there. Source: NBC News