Feds Want Blood-Alcohol Level for DUIs to Drop From .08 to .05

dui-sign.jpg
The National Transportation Safety Board has decided that a blood-alcohol level of .08 is no longer the acceptable maximum for American drivers, and instead wants .05 to be the new threshold for DUIs.

That obviously would have a big effect in Arizona, where the penalties for DUI are just about the toughest in the country.

See also:
-Arizona's Drunk Drivers Average "Extreme" DUI Levels...Again
-Jan Brewer's Wild Ride: We Got the Police Report

The NTSB's declaration is just a recommendation, but note that it previously recommended that .08 be the cut-off -- a standard that happens to apply to laws in all 50 states. The NTSB says it would want lawmakers to approve "incentive grants" to states that adopt the new .05 level, which is the same reason all 50 states now have limits of .08.

(Yes, Arizona law still has a law against driving while impaired to the "slightest degree," which doesn't require a blood-alcohol level of .08.)

The NTSB's safety report, released today, says studies showed that some of the countries that have already lowered their legal limit from .08 to .05 saw fewer fatal crashes.

"The NTSB concludes that BAC levels higher than 0.05 are viewed by respected traffic safety and public health organizations around the world as posing unacceptable risk for driving, and more than 100 countries have already established per se BAC limits at or below 0.05," the report says.

So, why is this exact number the new level that would put Arizona drivers in jail in many cases, and pay astronomical fines, while possibly having to find a new way to get to work (if you still have that job after the jail time)?

That's hard to say, since the NTSB itself concludes that "BAC levels as low as 0.01 have been associated with driving-related performance impairment, and BAC levels as low as 0.05 have been associated with significantly increased risk of fatal crashes."

A chart in that section (page 21) shows that the "relative crash risk" at a blood-alcohol level of .06 is hardly higher than .05. Why not .06? Who knows.

Then again, it might not matter that much. If you look at Arizona's stats from the Governor's Office of Highway Safey for DUI enforcement last year, the average blood-alcohol level was higher than .15 in more than 30,000 DUI arrests.

Check out the NTSB's report here.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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17 comments
sacommenz
sacommenz

Just an example of what an activist group (MADD) can do if they can get a solid revenue stream in place to fund themselves, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system.  I would note that these huge funding streams are why we are still doing the war on drugs.  It's not a conspiracy, its how business is being done.  In the name of public safety, millions of cops in the US collectively lobby for more and more resources to make it easier ways to stop you, cite you, and arrest you.  In return, the fine money is rolling in to pay for more and more law enforcement/CJS. Crime pays a lot if your in the law enforcement business. 

sarum
sarum

Having difficulty filling those CCA contracts? 

squash
squash

Cool, I can be arrested for DUI after having two beers (by the same cop who has two beers at happy hour after his shift gets off). 

Matthew Clemens
Matthew Clemens

So basically 2 drinks and some people would be legally drunk? Yeah thats the way to go, morons!!!

marcy
marcy

Until they find a way to convince people to stop driving at > 0.08 why lower the limit?  


sliperymike
sliperymike

what is good for the goose(pot smoking) is good for the gander(alcohol) as far as Arizona law.

FUCK I used to love this state,

TaxpayingVoter
TaxpayingVoter

I wonder how many of supposed DUI crashes have nothing to do with alcohol but everything to do with the fact that the driver is ALWAYS an idiot?

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@squash  not 100% certain, but in many states you can get convicted on a DUI with a BAC as low as .04 (CDL drivers .04 is legally intoxicated instead of .08) but when you have a .08 its a slam dunk legally intoxicated level

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@squash  

No, you can be arrested for having two beers and then DRIVING.

I don't agree with lowering the limit either, but let's not cloud this with rhetoric that is not applicable to the discussion.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

@TaxpayingVoter Actually, a DWI(Driving while an Idiot) law would probably have the positive effect of putting the entire Tea Party on foot.

squash
squash

@Flyer9753 That's what I meant - that I can be arrested for driving after having two beers.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@shadeaux14 @TaxpayingVoter Since they don't think that they should be taxes to pay for things like roads anyway, maybe that's not a bad idea.

squash
squash

@Flyer9753 and I meant arrested by a cop who has two beers after work AND drives home. 

Flyer9753
Flyer9753 topcommenter

@mywhatbigteethuhav @Flyer9753  

You are right, and then he compared that to a cop who has 2 beers after getting off shift - I was stating the comparison was wrong since he never says the cop would then be driving.

Perhaps I stated it wrong, but then again, so did squash.

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