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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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Drink Driving Limits
By Isidore on 5/15/2013 1:10:47 PM , Rating: 3
This is another area of legislation where the US seems out of step with most other first world countries. The connection between drinking and road fatalities is so obvious from accident statistics that it doesn't need to be discussed. I don't know what happens in the US but certainly in the UK if you are involved in an accident to which the police attend, you will almost certainly be breathalized. In Australia the police do random testing, as they do in many other countries. The real problem with the 50 mg alcohol/ 100 millilitres of blood as opposed to 80 which it is in the UK, is that you are quite likely to still be over the limit the following morning on your way to work. The Scandinavian limit is 20, which is effectively a zero limit-a small adult will be put over this by one glass of wine. The drink drive limit combined with seatbelt laws have reduced road fatalities to the extent that there is now a shortage of donor organs for transplants. I am all in favour of personal freedom, combined with personal responsibility and liability. The problem is that drunks kill other people and not just themselves and that is just not fair.

RE: Drink Driving Limits
By FITCamaro on 5/15/2013 1:31:29 PM , Rating: 1
I think our laws are just fine. I do believe if you kill someone while driving drunk, you should be executed. Same as you should be executed for killing anyone intentionally any other way. But we have European ideas to thank for that not being the case.

If you are caught driving drunk, you generally lose your license for a given amount of time. That doesn't stop people from driving though.

RE: Drink Driving Limits
By Skywalker123 on 5/15/2013 3:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
do believe if you kill someone while driving drunk, you should be executed. Same as you should be executed for killing anyone intentionally any other way

Drunk drivers dont intentionally kill anyone, this has to be the stupidest statement you've ever made, and that's saying a lot.

RE: Drink Driving Limits
By ven1ger on 5/17/2013 6:01:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'd say the first time they kill someone they lose their license without ever having the ability to operate a motor vehicle because they gave up the right to be responsible. 2nd time we shoot them...I'd think that would be enough to show intention...

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