Lower Blood Alcohol Limits for Drivers?
Drunk driving accidents are not really accidents; they are crimes. They kill thousands of innocent people every year. According to MADD, 10,076 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2013 – that is 1 every 52 minutes – and 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes. We, along with the National Transportation Safety Board, are proposing a solution – lower the legal blood alcohol level from .08% to .05% in hopes of saving lives.
Of course, the N.T.S.B. makes only recommendations, not laws. It would be up to Florida’s Governor Scott and our Florida legislature to listen. And naturally there are critics of the proposal–primarily The American Beverage Institute, the powerful political lobby that represents thousands of restaurants and bars in Florida.
The current Florida law states, “…an individual cannot drive a vehicle if they are under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or a controlled substance to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired…”. This can be proven with circumstantial evidence without knowing what exactly the individual’s blood alcohol level is. Florida’s legal limit is currently a BAC of .08, at which point there is an inference that those faculties are impaired. We suggest lowering the BAC limit to .05. That’s about one solid drink (1.5 oz. of alcohol) in a 150-lb. person. Therefore, we believe there should be a much stricter law in place – you can’t have one drink and drive.
We believe that lowering the legal levels to BAC .05 will lower the risk of alcohol related car crashes. However, it will not eliminate the problem entirely. We have represented many victims and families who have been injured as the result of a drunk driving crash. We do not want anyone to experience the pain of being involved in an alcohol related car crash. So what else can we do? We should also implement stronger preventive methods such as installing a steering lock on any vehicle, including motorcycles, owned by a convicted drunk driver to render the vehicle inoperable should the device detect any alcohol on the driver’s breath. Alternatively, a simple app can be developed that would require a certain degree of cognitive proficiency before a car can be started.
Many countries around the world already have set drinking levels at BAC .05%. Nobody enjoys wine like the Italians or the French, and since 2010 Italy and the other members of the European Union have set their blood alcohol limits at .05%, and as a result have cut DUI-related deaths in half. Florida’s legislature should prioritize our public safety over pub and restaurant profits. Florida should be a world leader in making its citizens safe rather than lagging behind places like Slovakia (.0%) and Sweden (.02%).
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