The National Transportation Safety Board–a federal agency that investigates transportation accidents–has begun to urge states to drop their legal drinking limit from .08 percent to .05 percent. The legal limit, as our readers may know, is the limit that determines whether police can issue presumptive drunk driving charges.
The recommendation was made based on a vote last month, which was in turn based on studies that have shown a significant reduction in the number of drunken driving fatalities associated with the lower limit. Much of that evidence comes from Europe. Jumping to the cause is Mothers Against Drug Driving, whose Louisiana chapter has come out in full support of the lower blood alcohol content limit.
Interestingly, however, Mothers Against Drunk Driving founder Candace Lightner doesn’t agree with the recommendation. According to Lightner, a lower limit is not a practical long-term solution. In the short term, she suggests, such a solution might be practical, but would not be enforced in the long run.
Many DUII attorneys feel that the recommendation is well-intentioned, but misunderstands what is behind the problem of drinking and driving. It isn’t, they suggest, so much a lack of stricter requirements as a failure in education. There is also the issue of the disconnect passing such a law would cause. For years drivers have been told that they are not legally impaired at .05 percent. To say that they now are impaired at that limit wouldn’t make sense without significant evidence to back it up.
The recommendation, of course, is only a recommendation, and it remains to be seen how state lawmakers take it up. Chances are, it will not be an easy sell.
Source: wafb.com, “NTSB recommends lower drinking limit,” Kelsey Davis, May 16, 2013.