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NTSB Recommends Lower BAC Limit for DUI Drivers

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today recommended that all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia establish a per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.05 or lower for all drivers who are not already required to adhere to lower BAC limits.

The board’s recommendation for a lower BAC limit for DUI drivers was among a variety of recommendations made by the board in their 100-page report, “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” The board officials said they hoped a stricter standard for driving under the influence would reduce drinking and driving among social drinkers as well as heavy drinkers. The board’s safety report suggests between 500 and 800 lives could be saved every year by lowering the BAC limit. The other recommendations of the NTSB include installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), a breathalyzer, by all drivers convicted of driving under the influence; and more concentration on heavy drinks and repeat DUI offenders.

The recommendation for a lower BAC limit is being met with opposition by the American Beverage Institute. “Moving from .08 to .05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.” said Sarah Longwell, the managing director of ABI. The institute estimates the average woman would reach the .05 level after just one drink. The ABI also disputes the NTSB’s claims that lowering the BAC threshold would save lives, with Longwell adding, “Out of the over 32,000 U.S. traffic fatalities in 2011 [the most recent year for which stats are available], less than 1 percent were caused by drivers between .05 and .08 percent BAC.”

The NTSB may be up for a fight and will certainly be met with more opposition than the ABI. The NTSB itself has no authority to change the law, but can only make its recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and to the states. It is then up to each state to make the changes, which can take quite a long time. While currently every state has adopted the 0.08 percent standard, it took more than 20 years for states to lower that limit from the previous .10% BAC limit.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Sonoma County, whether it was your first offense or you have previously been convicted, contact a Santa Rosa DUI attorney at the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. immediately. Attorney Evan Zelig will be happy to speak with you and can advise you on all of the current drunk driving laws and how to best defend against your DUI charges! Call us at (707) 636-3204 or toll free (888) ZELIG-LAW today!