The Debate on the BAC Limit

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the detrimental effects driving under the influence has on the safety of our highway. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2010.

The National Transportation Safety Board, separate from the NHTSA, believes that the current BAC level of .08 is too high to legally drive and should be lowered by almost half to .05. Members suggest that this measure would save about 500 to 800 lives annually.

Although more than 100 countries have adopted the .05 BAC standard or lower, changing the US legal limit will be met with strong opposition. It was difficult enough in most states to lower BAC to .08. The American Beverage Institute criticized recent efforts to reduce Utah’s blood-alcohol limits, claiming that they target responsible moderate drivers rather than implementing more rigid penalties for drunken drivers with larger BAC levels.

The debate begs the question: since less than 1 percent of more than 32,000 fatalities were caused by drivers with blood-alcohol levels between .05 and .08 percent in 2011, is lowering the limit really worth upsetting millions of Americans who feel their citizen rights will be infringed?

Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) understand the difficulty of implementing the measure. The group’s national president, Jan Withers, said, “It took us 20 years to get down to .08. It will take another 20 years to get down to .05.” Embarking on another legislative crusade may not be the most efficient way to save lives in the short run.

Despite the debate, drunk driving continues to injure thousands of people every year. Our Rhode Island auto accident attorneys deal with injuries that result from someone using alcohol or drugs, such as an accident caused by a drunk driver. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm if you have been injured from a drunk driver. When we represent victims of drunk drivers and their families, we pledge a portion of our legal fees to MADD to help prevent future tragedies.