Drunk driving fatalities make up nearly one-third of all accident fatalities in the country. It is a serious dilemma that lawmakers must continue to fight; however, sometimes, proposed measures lead to more problems than solutions long-term. A current recommendation may be an example of a “band-aid” rather than a practical solution.
Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended reducing the national BAC to 0.05% from 0.08% seeing the measure as a viable method of lowering drunk driving fatalities. Although 70% of drunk driving traffic fatalities take place when a driver is above .15%, proponents of a lower limit argue that a person’s ability to drive safely begins to falter at 0.05, not 0.08. Studies also point to the supposed effectiveness of a reduced BAC in other countries as a reason to reduce it in the States.
The Case for Reducing the BAC to 0.05
Earlier this year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a consensus study report that highlights drunk driving as a persistent problem. The report consists of the work of experts who have studied drunk driving extensively at prestigious institutions throughout the country. It analyzes the effectiveness of policies that work to reduce drunk driving fatalities.
The report notes that in the U.S., the number of drunk driving deaths has remained stagnant in recent years. In the 1980s, the U.S. upped the legal drinking to 21 and reduced the legal limit to 0.08 from 0.10. From 2009-2015, however, fatalities have remained constant.
The NTSB states that the risk of being killed in a single vehicle crash with a BAC of 0.05-0.079 is 7-21 times higher than for drivers at 0.00 BAC. Their report also states that “If all states were to adopt the 0.05 illegal BAC limit, and it was enforced, an estimated 500-800 lives could be saved each year in the United States.” The study looks to countries like Australia as an example of how the 0.05 BAC has led to reduced alcohol-related fatalities. The data indicate that the a BAC of 0.05 effectively reduced drunk driving deaths in specific parts of the country.
M.A.D.D. Against Reducing the BAC to 0.05
Opponents of reducing the BAC believe that there are bigger fish to fry. Among them include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which fought back in the 80s to raise awareness of drunk driving and raise the legal drinking age. The founder of MADD doesn’t believe that lowering the BAC would do enough to save lives here in the U.S.
When asked about the proposition, Candace Lightner stated “I don’t believe it is a practical long-term solution. You could go to 0.0 and that would save lives. You could go to a 40 mph speed limit and that would save lives, but you have to look at what’s realistic.” She believes the law would save lives in the short-term but that it would not be enforceable and would waste time and resources, detracting officers from more significant issues like high BAC drunk driving, distracted driving, and drugged driving.
Effective DUI Defense in West Palm Beach
If you’re ever a suspect in a DUI case, you deserve comprehensive legal representation from a qualified defense attorney. Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has defended DUI throughout West Palm Beach for over 30 years. He has dedicated a significant portion of his practice to DUI defense in South Florida that you can count on to protect your rights. Call 561-622-5575 or email us to receive a free consultation.