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NTSB Argues for Lowering Legal BAC for DUI Offense

May 26, 2015

NTSB Argues for Lowering the Legal BAC for a DUI Offense

When operating a vehicle, drivers must not exceed the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08.  Depending on your height and weight, this is probably equivalent to two or three drinks.  That could change, however, if the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has their way.  The NTSB is recommending that states lower the limit to .05, which could be just one drink for some.

The legal BAC limit was .15 in the early 1980s, but was gradually lowered to .08 across the country until all 50 states complied in 2004.  Traffic fatalities caused by alcohol-related accidents reduced from 20,000 in 1980 to just under 10,000 in 2000.  The NTSB, which examines traffic data for potential hazards, believes these can be reduced even further by making the limit .05.  According to the NTSB, a driver may already experience difficulty seeing and concentrating at that level.

Beverage Organizations Fear That Lower Limit for BAC Could Hurt Their Businesses

Not everyone agrees with the proposed change.  The American Beverage Institute (ABI) perceives the lower limit as too strict, citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data saying that an average woman can reach a BAC of .05 after just one drink.  The ABI claims that the lowered limit will unnecessarily punish people who are trying to be responsible.  The Beer Institute also raised objections, saying that it will review the NTSB’s proposal, but defended the current BAC limit.

The proposed limit change may take a while to come into effect, but it would not be entirely unprecedented.  There are over 100 countries that have a BAC limit of .05 or lower.  Government research indicates that drivers with a BAC of .05 are 38% more likely to get in an accident, compared to 169% more likely with a BAC of .08.  That difference might be enough to scare lawmakers into making the change.

In addition to recommending the lowered BAC, the NTSB is advocating tougher law enforcement responses to drunk driving, including license confiscation, stricter penalties for first-time offenders, and increased use of passive alcohol sensors.  Although the NTSB is a government organization, they do not have the authority to pass legislation, so it is attempting to collaborate with other agencies, including the NHTSA, to gather momentum to influence lawmakers.

New Jersey DUI Defense Attorney Michele Finizio Knows How to Protect Your Rights

The circumstances surrounding any drunk driving arrest can vary greatly.  Each person reacts differently to alcohol: a BAC of .05 may seriously impair some drivers, while others may be completely capable of driving a car as safely as they would before alcohol consumption.  If this proposal is adopted and the BAC maximum is lowered, however, all drivers would be subject to the same penalties for a BAC of .05 or higher.  These penalties can include a suspended license, extensive fines, or even jail time.

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI offense in New Jersey, contact the New Jersey Criminal Lawyers at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio immediately.  Our traffic attorneys will thoroughly review the facts of your case and aggressively defend your rights.  We will use our knowledge and experience to minimize the consequences of your charge and get you the best possible outcome.  Our office is conveniently located in Moorestown, NJ, and we serve clients throughout the Cherry Hill region and all of the surrounding communities in South Jersey.  Call us today at 856-888-9059 or contact us online.

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