The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that states reduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold for DUI from 0.08 to 0.05. Almost one-third of all traffic fatalities in the United States involve drunk driving, defined as BAC of at least 0.08. Thousands more fatalities and serious injury accidents involve alcohol impairment that does not reach the BAC 0.08 level. This would bring the states’ standards (0.08, mandated more than a decade ago) in line with the 0.05 standard which currently exists in most of the industrialized world.
The NTSB’s recommendations are aimed at further reducing traffic accidents, especially among young drivers, and are implicitly aimed at the social drinker as opposed to the hardcore drinker. According to the Board, drivers with a BAC of 0.05 are 38% more likely to be in an accident, and those with a BAC of 0.08 are 169% more likely to be in an accident. While most fatalities in the U.S. are caused by drivers under the age of 26, a higher percentage of the drivers in this age group involved in fatal accidents have alcohol in their system as compared to other age groups, suggesting that young drivers and their passengers have the most to benefit from a lowering of the BAC legal limit.
As a lawyer who represents accident victims of alcohol impairment, I see the devastation caused by alcohol related accidents and applaud the Board’s recommendations as a sensible and reasonable step to reduce the carnage that I unfortunately witness in my practice.