The National Transportation Safety Board proposed last week that states lower their drinking and driving limits from .08 to .05. Currently, all states criminalize drinking and driving (DWI) for motorists with a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or more.
The NTSB cites, as the basis for dropping the BAC, the annual loss of life and injuries (almost 10,000 and 170,000 respectively) due to alcohol-related traffic accidents.
Most countries in Europe, South America and Australia, make it illegal to drive with BAC levels of only .05. New York already makes it criminal for operators of commercial vehicles who are under 21 to drive with .04 BAC or other evidence of intoxication.
For anyone age 21+, it is illegal in New York to drive while impaired (DUI), alcohol blood levels of .05 to under .07 or other evidence of impairment, but it is not a criminal charge. A DUI conviction does carry up to 15 days in jail, a 90 suspension of license and various fines.
DWI occurs in New York at .08 or higher, although there is an even more serious charge called aggravated DWI which occurs at .18 or higher. Convictions to either one involve a possible incarceration, loss of license, interlock device, educational classes, alcohol screening and various fines. Second or more offense carry stiffer penalties.
At .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39 percent. At .a 08 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100 percent. The NTSB believes that if all 50 states changed their standard to .05, nearly 1,000 lives could be saved each year.
Alcohol affects individuals differently depending on sex, weight and tolerance. but, in my experience, many people have visual and/or judgment impairment below .08. In fact, we’ve all seen people in social gatherings whose demeanor changes after just a few drinks.
In my opinion, this is a very good change and that should be adopted state-wide. Too many innocent lives are lost or affected each year due to the irresponsible decisions of others. What do you think?