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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: Where is the data?
By 91TTZ on 5/15/2013 1:18:03 PM , Rating: 4
You didn't address his question in any way. He's not denying that drunk drivers cause that many deaths, he's asking if people in the new proposed range are what's causing them.

It's already illegal to drive with blood alcohol over .08%, but I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of fatalities are caused by people whose blood alcohol is far higher than that.


RE: Where is the data?
By M'n'M on 5/15/2013 2:49:50 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
It's already illegal to drive with blood alcohol over .08%, but I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of fatalities are caused by people whose blood alcohol is far higher than that.

You would be correct and the NTSB admits this is so. See my earlier post below. I find this from the study interesting:
quote:
The laboratory and driving simulator research described above provides insights into alcohol ’s effects on general performance; however, with respect to safety, studies that consider the relationship between BAC and crash risk can provide useful information to guide policy. One of the earliest and best known studies of the effects of BAC on crash risk was the Borkenstein Grand Rapids study, a case - control study conducted in the early 1960s (Borkenstein and others 1964). The Borkenstein study showed an increased risk of crashes beginning at a BAC of 0.04. At a BAC of 0.08, risk was nearly doubled, and at 0.10, it had increased six fold. The Borkenstein study also found a “dip” in risk at very low BAC levels; 23 however, subsequent replications have indicated that the dip was a statistical anomaly (Hurst , Harte, and Frith 1994, 647 – 54) and that risk increases continuously beginning at a BAC of 0.01. More recent studies have shown that risk is significantly higher when a driver’s BAC is = 0.05, and that crash risk climbs rapidly at BAC levels that exceed 0.08. One study found that the risk of fatal crash involvement at BACs between 0.05 0 and 0.079 ranged from about 3 to 17 times greater, depending on the age of the driver and the type of fatal crash (single - vehicle versus all crashes) ( Zador , Krawchuk, and Voas 2000, 387 – 95 ). Another study found that at a BAC of 0.05, drivers are 1.38 times more likely to be in a crash than are sober drivers. At a BAC of 0.08, crash risk is 2.69 times higher ( Compton and others 2002; Blomberg and others 2005). These elevated risks grow even higher as BACs increase, with the risk of being in a crash rising to nearly 5 times higher by a BAC of 0.10. Figure 4 depicts relative crash risk by BAC level from this study.

So there's wildly varying estimates as to just how impaired people are vs BAC. They've picked 0.05 because it's the lowest point at which some consistent impairment can be found. And their stated goal is zero impairment.


RE: Where is the data?
By RufusM on 5/20/2013 4:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And their stated goal is zero impairment.


Then they may as well make the DUI BAC .005 and ban all in-vehicle distractions as well: cell phones, car stereos, navigation devices or map reading, eating, passengers talking to drivers, etc. #nannyState


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