Potential Change in Nationwide DUI Laws

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) should be lowered from .08 percent to .05 percent. The NTSB made this recommendation at a meeting in Washington this morning. The NTSB is suggesting these and other changes to DUI laws as a part of its "Reaching Zero" initiative to completely eliminate drunk driving in the U.S.

Statistically, about 10,000 people are killed every year because of drunk drivers, a number that federal safety officials believe state legislators aren't shocked enough about. If lowering the BAC to .05 percent could eliminate up to 800 lives every year, the NTSB stated, why shouldn't that change take place? Of course, imposing new laws will never be enough to completely eradicate drunk driving, but the NTSB believes this would be a strong step in the right direction.

For over ten years, the legal intoxication limit has been .08 percent BAC. Before this, the limit was .15 percent which is a BAC that carries enhanced penalties and labeled "aggravated DUI" in many states. In the 1980s, there were approximately 20,000 deaths annually due to drunk driving. A series of reforms and pushes from grassroots organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) led to a decrease in DUI death toll, eventually being lowered to just under 10,000 deaths per year by 2011.

Should the new DUI laws be implemented in California, how many drinks would it take to reach a .05 percent BAC? Currently, most BAC calculators indicate that it would take four drinks in one hour for a 180 pound man to reach .08 BAC. Using this same principle, the same man would be considered legally intoxicated after two or three drinks in one hour. It is important to remember that BAC calculators are for general information only. Factors such as height, weight and gender can significantly affect BAC.

The NTSB is also strongly recommending other changes to DUI laws, such as imposing ignition interlock device (IID) installation for first-time DUI offenders and allowing police to more swiftly confiscate a person's driver license for a DUI offense. The NTSB cannot make laws, but its recommendations are often seriously taken into consideration by lawmakers and likeminded officials. The NTSB firmly believes these changes need to be made, but also stated that reform could likely take a long while.

The Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry supports initiatives to lower the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. DUI-related injuries and deaths are tragic, but the firm also understands that people make mistakes. Our Orange County DUI attorneys offer representation to individuals facing all types of DUI charges, including DUI manslaughter. Should these NTSB recommendations be implemented, even more individuals could be facing DUI charges. To learn more about how our firm could help, call us today.

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