Everyone would love to see the number deaths related to drunken driving be zero. Intoxicated driving is a crime, and it is preventable. Those who have fought against drunk driving believe that the tools exist to eliminate drunk driving completely, if only lawmakers and citizens had the will to make it happen. How do we start? By lowering the DUI threshhold.
In an effort to make the goal of lowering the DUI threshhold a reality, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has suggested that all states drop the blood-alcohol level (BAC) that motorists can be charged with driving drunk to .05%, instead of the current legal limit of 0.08%.
Although all states have previously lowered the DUI threshhold level and would have to modify state laws again to lower it, the NTSB argues that to make the change happen the Federal Government could use their powers of persuasion and pressure by threatening to withhold government highway funding, as they did before.
New DUI threshhold questioned
Although the NTSB recommendation of lowering the DUI threshhold could potentially save lives, those who oppose it suggest that it could be too restrictive. If the new DUI threshhold limit was adopted, it is likely that a woman who weighs 120 pounds might only be allowed to have one drink and a man who weighs 160 pounds might only be allowed to have two drinks before they could reach the legal limit. This means that drinkers could be arrested for DUI even if their driving was not impaired simply because their blood alcohol concentration would be too high.
Interestingly, the move to lower the DUI threshhold level is not a new concept. In fact, the stricter standards have already been adopted in over 100 countries. Proponents of the push note that in some countries the drunken driving deaths have been cut in half in the last ten years where the new changes have been made.
Something must be done
Frustration rages on all sides with those who are pushing for new changes arguing that it’s time for the U.S. to take a new look at ways to fight drunk driving. It’s estimated that drunken driving “claims the lives of more than a third of the 30,000 people killed each year on U.S highways.” Proponents also argue that this figure has not changed too much in the last fifteen years, despite implementing many new tougher DWI laws.
What do the states say? Many states continue to fight against lowering the threshold to 0.05%. Critics argue that the push to get it lowered to 0.08% in some states was a very tough fight. Others argue that focus should shift not from those who are barely intoxicated to those who have been arrested for multiple drunken driving charges and those who continue to drive with a very high BAC content, which can be extremely dangerous.
Advocates have also suggest other measures to combat drunken driving such as forced installation of an ignition interlock device for all first time DUI offenders could be used. Currently, 17 states and two California counties require all convicted drivers use the devices.
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