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NTSB Wants To Lower Drunk Driving Limit

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to lower the drunk driving limit from .08 to .05. The NTSB voted to recommend to the states that they lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) that constitutes drunk driving to .05.

Right now all 50 states have set a BAC of .08. If a driver has a BAC of .08 or above, that person is subject to arrest and prosecution.

According to the NTSB, there were nearly 10,000 fatal traffic accidents, and 170,000 injuries due to alcohol consumption. While that’s an improvement from 20,000 alcohol related deaths 30 years ago, the NTSB says impaired driving still remains a threat to public safety.

The recommendation prompted immediate criticism from restaurant trade groups.

“This recommendation is ludicrous,” said Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute. ”Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.

“Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

The United States, Canada and Iraq have set the BAC at .08. Most countries in Europe including Russia, South America and Australia have the BAC set for .05 to constitute drunk driving.

The NTSB reports that at .05 BAC, some drivers begin having difficulties with depth perception and other visual functions.  At .07, cognitive abilities become impaired.

At .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39 percent. At .08 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100 percent.

The NTSB believes that if all 50 states changed their standard to .05, nearly 1,000 lives could be saved each year.  It is also considering other steps to help bring down the death rates on America’s roads.

The National Transportation Safety Board is an agency that advises on public safety issues.  It has no legal authority to change state or federal law. It would be up to each individual state to accept the NTSB’s recommendation and also up to the Department of Transportation to endorse the recommendation.

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