Last Tuesday, May 14th, the National Transportation Safety Board publicly issued a recommendation
which would require all 50 states in the country to adopt a new, lower
cutoff for the blood alcohol content that is currently used to measure
whether or not a driver's level of intoxication warrants arrest for
DUI or DWI. If put into effect, the safety board's recommendation would
abandon the longstanding 0.08% blood alcohol level that has been used
to gauge intoxication, and instead adopt a new standard of 0.05%.
The potential for change in the national government's regulations for
drinking and driving in the United States stems from a safety board initiative
that intends to eventually eliminate drunk driving altogether. By lowering
the tolerated level of intoxication for operating a motor vehicle in any
state across the country, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
believes that anywhere between 500 and 800 lives could be saved annually.
And while this is a noble goal, to say the least, it does not look at
the other side of the matter, which is that a new, lower BAC level could
result in a number of more arrests for DUI, many of which might be unwarranted.
To exemplify how a reduced BAC level could adversely affect drivers in
the U.S., let's look at the influence that alcohol could have on a
180-pound man whose drinking has reached the 0.08% threshold. In an hour's
time, this man could consume approximately 4 drinks before hitting the
0.08% limit, but under the 0.05% limit, he could have no more than 2 to
3 drinks. For a male of this size, 2 or 3 drinks is not typically enough
to cause significant impairment. If it were to pass, the lowered BAC could
lead to far more arrests for DUI than would otherwise be necessary by
today's current standards.
Although the NTSB can do nothing more than advocate on behalf of safety
issues that it has determined to be of importance, its suggestions should
nonetheless be taken seriously; especially if they stand to affect the
legal rights of persons on a national scope. Considering the influential
impact that the NTSB has had in the past, it's not unreasonable to
fathom the possibility of its suggested lowered BAC levels being accepted
and implemented in states across the country. When considering original
grass-roots suggestions for a 0.15% BAC rate, this new level can seem
even more daunting.
It took more than two decades for groups such as Mothers Against Drunk
Driving (MADD) to push states into adopting the 0.08% BAC level that is
now in place today. With the new proposition of a 0.05% standard, many
have been left to reasonably wonder how long it might take for such a
law to go into effect as well. Restaurant trade associations such as the
American Beverage Institute have already attacked the recommendation of
the NTSB, arguing that the average woman can reach a BAC of 0.05% after
consuming only one drink.
Another beer industry trade group has encouraged policymakers to not focus
on lowering the BAC level, but to instead focus their attention on the
real problem, which it sites as the repeat offenders of drinking and driving
charges. One group in particular has suggested that only repeat offenders
be the focus of new DUI initiatives and penalties, advising that only
persons with a BAC of 0.015% or more should be the focus of potentially
new policies for drinking and driving.
It's clear that the National Transportation Safety Board's proposal
is one of great controversy, and it is likely one that will not be settled
upon quickly or easily. Until a decision is reached, drivers in the state
of Georgia will be required to adhere to the state's standard 0.08%
for drinking and driving. If you are arrested for DUI of any nature, you
should immediately contact an
Atlanta criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Howard J. Weintraub, where an experienced DUI professional
can help you in your attempts to avoid conviction for the charges that
you currently face.
We will continue to stay on top of news pertaining to the potential for
a new, lower BAC level in states throughout the U.S. If you have additional
questions about current or future laws as they could pertain to your charges,
we encourage you to
contact our office today. We are here to help you navigate your way through any type of criminal
legal process, especially if your charges involve DUI of any degree.