Debating the Merits of Reducing the Legal BAC Threshold for Drunk Driving to .05 Percent [Part II]


October 15, 2013

This is the continuation of our two-part blog post discussing the merits of the NTSB recommendation that states lower the level at which drivers are considered alcohol impaired from .08 percent BAC to .05 percent BAC.  If you have not yet read Part I of this two-part blog post, we encourage you to do so before reading Part 2.

Because drivers begin to exhibit changes in their motor skills, coordination, judgment and other traits that impact one’s driving ability at a .05 percent BAC, the NTSB and other traffic safety experts are recommending that states lower the BAC level for presuming alcohol impairment to .05 percent BAC.  Many would contend that preventing alcohol-related crashes and avoiding injuries and fatalities trumps the convenience of operating a motor vehicle after one has been drinking.  The NTSB estimates that lowering the BAC level to .05 percent would save 500-800 lives annually according to a CNN report.

Predictably, there are those in the alcohol beverage industry that opposes this recommendation based on three main arguments.  The first argument is that adopting this change would essentially amount to a “zero tolerance” policy for drinking and driving.  The American Beverage Institute told CNN that an adult woman reaches the .05 percent BAC level after only a single alcoholic beverage.  Opponents of the proposed changes also contend that a motorist driving ability may not be impacted at all when the driver has a BAC of .05 percent. 

The final argument raised by those who consider lowering the DUI limit a bad idea focuses on the fact that the bulk of DUI accidents that result injury or fatalities involve those with high BAC levels. In an editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the author argues that only one percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. annually involve drivers with a BAC of .05-.08 percent.  The editorial suggests that new traffic safety laws should be concentrated on more serious risks like severely impaired drivers, repeat DUI offenders and distracted drivers.

While it is still too unclear whether states will adopt the NTSB recommendation, our Georgia car accident lawyers see the tragic consequences of alcohol impaired driving on crash victims and their families all too often.  We would be inclined to support a policy that can save lives and prevent injuries at the cost of some level of inconvenience to drivers.  Although more research may be appropriate on the number of accidents, injuries and loss of life that would be averted, the minimal inconvenience of needing to arrange for alternate transportation home from a bar, restaurant, sporting event or other outing may be worth saving another person’s life – the life that is saved could be someone you love.

If you or your loved one is injured in a collision involving an alcohol impaired driver, our experienced Georgia car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.