Tougher Drunk Driving Threshold Proposed in Washington

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.

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