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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: Fix the existing laws first
By FITCamaro on 5/15/2013 1:14:43 PM , Rating: 4
No law will fix that. .01 or .05 or .08, people are still going to drink and drive. Period. Unless you mandate that every car has to have a breathalyzer attached to the ignition, the problem isn't going to stop.

You have plenty of people driving around with suspended licenses due to alcohol or other related charges. The cops simply can't do everything.

RE: Fix the existing laws first
By bsd228 on 5/15/2013 2:51:19 PM , Rating: 2
You have plenty of people driving around with suspended licenses due to alcohol or other related charges. The cops simply can't do everything.

There is a lot you can do about this. Starting with jail, or vehicle seizures and monetary penalties.

It's a common occurrence to read about a local fatality caused by someone driving with a suspended license, and double digit prior DUIs. Multiple occasions driving on their suspended license. Clearly the penalties were inadequate.

I don't see any problems with the .08 level and the penalties that ensure. But we clearly have a problem with handling those who refuse to adhere to their punishment and continue to offend.

RE: Fix the existing laws first
By FITCamaro on 5/15/2013 5:47:19 PM , Rating: 2
Even if you fine them or take their car, nothing stopping them from buying another and driving that one. Or borrowing another one.

RE: Fix the existing laws first
By Vertigo2000 on 5/15/2013 6:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
True, but buying a car will require money... which then reduces the amount of disposable money that person will have to purchase alcohol.

I say give everyone the benefit of the doubt. All prior transgressions will be wiped from the books. The state will trust that you know your limitations and are responsible enough to know your own limits... BUT once you've proven that you're not responsible enough to do so... say goodbye to your licence for at least 10 years. Your name and picture will be forwarded to the car dealerships in your state so that you cannot legally purchase a new vehicle. You can try again in 10 years. Thanks, have a nice day. STRIKE ONE
Oh, you've borrowed your buddy's car for the weekend and proved again that you're not responsible... guess what... your buddy has now lost his vehicle. He can still legally drive, but his car is seized. Maybe he should have considered that when he lent his car keys to a known dips**t. Make some new friends. If your buddy's a real friend, he'll reimburse you for the car he lost for you. STRIKE TWO

RE: Fix the existing laws first
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/15/2013 6:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
Used cars, private dealers. Not going to make a bit of difference.

RE: Fix the existing laws first
By BRB29 on 5/17/2013 12:35:38 PM , Rating: 2
Some people are just selfish and bent on doing bad things. No amount of laws will stop them. The point of making harsh laws for DUI is prevent those that still have a conscience to think twice about taking that risk. The article clearly says their goal is about 10% reduction, not 100%.

I agree with harsher punishment but I also think it may be too harsh. Some people make dumb decisions once in a while. You shouldn't turn their life upside down for one mistake. I would say make the 2nd offense really harsh and the first only harsh enough for a wake up call.

After seeing my friends get DUI and how much it cost them over the years, you can be 100% certain I always have a plan when I go out. I would also never want a breathalyzer in my ignition. I would also hate my life if I lost my license. It's a lot of think about after the thousands you have to pay. Over the years, it will cost even more. At the minimum your insurance will probably increase 2-3x.

RE: Fix the existing laws first
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/15/2013 5:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
And they will still do it even with that...

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