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NTSB considers lowering blood alcohol limit

The blood alcohol limit of .08 percent has been the law in Arizona for nearly 14 years, since President Bill Clinton signed it into law. The notion behind the law was that less alcohol in drivers' systems would lead to fewer accidents. For the most part, that notion was correct. Compared to the 1990's there are fewer highway accidents, and a culture shift against drinking and driving has reached all levels of our society.

However, the National Transportation Safety Board may ask Congress to lower the legal alcohol limit once again. In a recent vote, it recommended that the limit be lowered to .05 percent.

The decision on alcohol limitations came along with a number of other recommendations concerning drunk driving, including the installation of ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of DWI, as well as alcohol detection systems that could be incorporated into the steering wheel of new cars. Overall, NTSB officials hope that a stricter standard would further reduce drunk driving accidents.

Opponents of the recommendation believe that targeting social drinkers would not solve the problem. They insist that it would criminalize responsible behavior and prevent consumers from enjoying any alcoholic beverages. Moreover, a lower limit would not deter hard-care alcoholics who get behind the wheel without regard towards criminal and civil penalties.

Nevertheless, the statistics on alcohol use and fatal accidents is compelling. According to a New York Times report, drivers with a .05 blood alcohol level would be 38 times more likely to be in an accident compared to drivers with no alcohol in their systems. Drivers with a .08 BAC were more than twice as likely to be in an accident.

Source: NYTimes.com, Safety Board endorses lower legal alcohol limit for drivers, May 14, 2013