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Plan would drop legally drunk from B.A. of 0.08 to 0.05

Police departments nationwide stand to cash in if state governments embrace a controversial plan proposed by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to drop the definition of "drunk driving" from 0.08 to 0.05.  The five-member board voted unanimously to approve the new policy suggestion.

I. NTSB Says Its Time to Get Strict

Drunk driving laws in the U.S. first landed in the early 1900s; New York became the first state to ban it in 1910, with a legal blood alcohol limit of 0.15 percent blood alcohol.  For many decades the limit remained at 0.15 in many states; then in the 1980s a push by advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) led to states embracing a stricter limit of 0.08, while adopting "zero-tolerance" limits of 0.01 or 0.02 percent blood alcohol for teenage drivers.

The NTSB justifies yet another serious increase, arguing that alcohol remains responsible for a third of road deaths.  NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman says there's "no silver bullet" for drunk driving, but she comments, "This is critical because impaired driving remains one of the biggest killers in the United States.  In the last 30 years, more than 440,000 people have perished in this country due to alcohol-impaired driving. What will be our legacy 30 years from now?  If we don't tackle alcohol-impaired driving now, when will we find the will to do so?"

While body chemistry varies, a 180-pound (81.6 kg) male will typically hit 0.08 after four "drinks" (12 oz. domestic beers) over an hour, according to the University of Oklahoma.  Three drinks would be required to hit 0.06; however keep in mind that many "tall" (or standard size craft) beers or mixed drinks count as two or more "drinks".

II. Technology Battle Over Drunk Driving is Heated

According to the NTSB as little as 0.01 BAC (blood alcohol content) can lead to lane departures.  At 0.02 they exhibit drowsiness, and at 0.04 their vigilance is substantially reduced.
Global blood alcohol limits
Global blood alcohol limits [Image Source: NTSB]

Many police departments nationwide are increasing drunk driving ticket via another mechanism -- passive sensors.  Passive sensors "sniff" the air for the presence of alcohol during traffic stops, so that officers don't have to rely on driving behavior, driver demeanor, or breath odor (which might be influenced by mints or gum) to determine if a driver might be drunk.

Drunk driver
Police are increasing using passive sensors to catch drunk drivers. [Image Source: CNN]

At the same time some cases have challenged the accuracy/validity of breathalyzers, demanding their code be shared with defendants.

The issue is likely to remain a hot button topic for years to come, particularly if the NTSB succeeds in pushing this stricter standard on the public.  The NTSB has also been busy trying to crack down on distracted driving.  Texting while driving has been shown in some studies to be more dangerous than drunk driving.

Source: NTSB

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RE: Stupid
By Xplorer4x4 on 5/15/2013 12:38:44 PM , Rating: 2
Way to put bars and restaurants out of business. .05 could be a single micro brew these days. What's the point of going out if you can't even drive home anymore?

The thing is, will most people be impaired enough at .05 to drive in a manner that warrants them being pulled over? Probably not, but when you consider stupidity factor, they are more likely to be pulled over for something stupid then because they were drunk enough to be swerving.

How about we just allow drivers to take rigorous tests that prove they can drive safely at a certain BAC and then grant privileged licenses as such? I could house a case of beer and still drive better than 99% of the moron drivers out there.

I agree. I had a buddy back in the day who could be piss drunk but some how managed to drive no different then he was sober. I would like to see evidence of how many drunk driving crashes are caused due to high speeds. The majority of the time that I here a drunk driver caused a crash it is because of speed.

RE: Stupid
By degobah77 on 5/15/2013 12:55:29 PM , Rating: 1
Just add a NON restriction to the license - "Has effectively proven to safely operate this machinery/perform this activity with up to a BAC of .##".

There's no need to destroy people's lives because of a blanket law that assumes all people are stupid, reckless, drunk driving maniacs hunting for family filled minivans to broadside.

RE: Stupid
By FITCamaro on 5/15/2013 1:07:08 PM , Rating: 1
Yup. I think nearly anyone who drinks has at some point driven with their BAC over the legal limit of their state. Doesn't mean they should have or that they were too impaired to do so.

If I've had two or three drinks, I drive at or near the speed limit, keep adequate distance between me and the guy in front of me, and just generally be careful.

Only maybe once in my life did I look back on the situation and think "Yeah I probably shouldn't have driven home". But more so because of the potential consequences of being caught than that I was too impaired to do so. I've called people to have them drive me home when I've been too impaired and knew it. But then I also don't binge drink and never have. And these days I barely drink at all.

RE: Stupid
By Aloonatic on 5/20/2013 6:42:03 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I had a buddy back in the day who could be piss drunk but some how managed to drive no different then he was sober. I would like to see evidence of how many drunk driving crashes are caused due to high speeds. The majority of the time that I here a drunk driver caused a crash it is because of speed.
You are missing the point.

Most people could probably drive around OK when they were drunk and everything is OK on the other side of the windshield... The thing is, it's when something happens that is unexpected, like someone stepping out into the road, another car stopping unexpectedly (the random stuff really) then your reaction times when drunk are proven to be slower, and you're more likely to end up hurting yourself, your passenger(s) and third parties. Hell, if we use the logic that a buddy can do something OK when drunk, well, I could drive OK before I took my test and got a licence, so lets not bother with that either?!?!

The difference with speed and driving drunk is, you do not need to be drunk to drive, but you do need to be traveling at some kind of speed to be driving. Now where you set the limit for the speed that you can travel is a different debate, and anything over 1mph will be arguably increasingly unsafe as you increase speeds, but when it comes to driving with alcohol in your system, there little need to have any in your system (baring medication or a tiny residual amount from the night before maybe) and drive a potentially lethal piece of equipment.

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