Stricter D.U.I. Laws may be on the Horizon
DUI Laws going to be stricter. On Tuesday, May 14th, officials at the federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made an informed declaration and suggestion regarding the benchmark for what should determine what counts as driving under the influence of alcohol (more informally known as D.U.I.). According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, currently, every state in the United States, and the District of Columbia, have DUI laws that say that if you are driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over .08, you are legally driving under the influence of alcohol and can be charged and convicted with such a crime. (Note: Michigan will raise their state BAC level to .10 on October 1st of this year).
The NTSB, in their report of May 14th, recommended that all fifty states (plus Washington, D.C.) lower their legal limit from a BAC of .08 to a BAC of .05, meaning that if you are driving with a BAC above .05, you are breaking the law, and can be charged and possibly convicted of a DUI. According to the NTSB, over 440,000 people in the last thirty years alone have died as a result of alcohol-related auto accidents. While, like many issues plaguing our nation today, there is no “silver bullet” for fixing the issue, there are certainly things that can be done to help.
In the report published by the NTSB, it was estimated by the Safety Board that lowering the legal limit to .05 will result in the saving of roughly 500-800 lives every year, meaning 500-800 fewer shattered lives, families and communities. We must consider, too, that DUI’s don’t always result in death – alcohol-induced car crashes also, and far more frequently, leave debilitating injuries, traumatic emotional damage, and a plethora of other horrible impacts. The lower legal limit will help keep more impaired people off the road – and it will keep offenders of the new regulations off the road at a higher rate.
According to a BAC calculator, currently, if a man of 160 pounds consumes four standard alcoholic drinks in a given hour, they will be above the legal limit (at roughly .85). If the recommended legal limit were adopted, the same man would be well above the legal limit (at roughly .6) after just three drinks during that same time. A woman of 130 pounds, for example, currently, would be well above the legal limit (at .935) after consuming three drinks in one hour. However, with the .05 legal limit, that same woman would be above the limit (at .58) after just two drinks in that one hour.
A lower legal limit will mean a more aggressive response to selfish, negligent drunk driving. The past few decades, we have already seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of fatalities from drunk driving accidents. That said, instead of commending ourselves for mitigating the deadly problem, what we should be focusing is on
a) how bad the problem used to be
b) the 10,000 DUI-related deaths that still occur every year; and
c) how we might bring the current fatality rate down.
DUI death rates fell initially due to government regulation that lowered the legal limit. Thus, it is not a far reach to expect rates to drop even further if the legal limit is brought down even more.
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