Drunk-Driving Laws Get Tougher

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a strong recommendation to all 50 states that the legal level of blood-alcohol content (BAC) be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05. The announcement was made on May 14th, which marked the 25th anniversary of the deadliest alcohol-related highway crash in U.S. history. On May 14th in 1988, an intoxicated driver drove into oncoming traffic on a busy highway in Kentucky. The results were devastatingly tragic—24 children and 3 adults lost their lives, while 34 others were badly injured. The driver’s BAC was 0.24 percent, which was significantly more than Kentucky’s legal limit at the time of 0.10. This begs the question; could these lives have been saved had the legal BAC been lower?

According to the NTSB, about 31% of all road deaths are due to drunk driving. By lowering the BAC of all 50 states from 0.08 to 0.05, they estimate between 500 and 800 lives could be saved each year. While the NTSB is a force for positive change, each state sets their own BAC standards, and the NTSB can only make recommendations for change to federal and state agencies. Chairman of the NTSB, Debbie Hersman, has said that progress has been made to reduce drunk driving via tougher law enforcement and a myriad of state policies, but ‘too many people are still dying on America’s roads in alcohol-related crashes’.

Many people might not understand just how much alcohol affects a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle. The NTSB has said that even very low levels of alcohol impair drivers. Testing drivers in simulators, it was found that at 0.01 BAC drivers exhibited attention problems and had issues staying in their traffic lanes, displayed drowsiness at 0.02, and showed vigilance problems at 0.04 BAC.

As reported by the NTSB, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other advocacy groups have made major strides towards lowering the number of alcohol-related deaths over the years. Thanks to their efforts, the number of fatalities dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to less than 10,000 in 2011. By encouraging each state to lower the BAC from 0.08 to 0.05, the NTSB is confident that the fatality rate will continue to fall.

You can read more about this important recommendation here.

The attorneys at Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. firmly believe that the BAC should be lowered to 0.05. We feel strongly that this change in legislation can and should serve as a protection to innocent drivers. If you or a loved one was injured due to an impaired driver, call us today for a free consultation.

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