Since 2000, all states in the U.S. have had a mandatory blood-alcohol limit of .08%. Now, some groups like the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are pushing to reduce the limit even more to .05%. This would mean that drinking almost any amount of alcohol and operating a vehicle would be a crime. Proponents of this regulation feel that there are still too many DUI fatalities and other countries with lower DUI death rates have much stricter laws.
Some people are asking how much of a threat drivers with a .05% blood-alcohol level are. The answer depends a lot on the individual and how well their bodies metabolize alcohol. The New York Times reports that:
People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking, according to government statistics. People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely.
Still, only about 30% of fatal accidents are caused by intoxicated drivers.
There is much opposition to this proposal as well. Even advocacy group Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has stated that while they are in favor of lowering the BAC limit, the effort to make the changes and enforce the new law would not be worth the results.
Others feel that lowering the BAC is just a ploy to bring in more revenue in the form of fines from DUI offenders. Sarah Longwell, the managing director at the American Beverage Institute told reporters that “moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior”.
A 05% blood alcohol level would certainly lead to more DUI arrests as well as more convictions, but many sources seem to think that it would do little to stop fatal DUI accidents. The majority of DUI accidents in California are caused by repeat offenders or drivers with extremely high BACs of .15% or more. Lowering the limit does not seem like the solution to this problem.