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NTSB Recommends Lowering Alcohol Limit to .05

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday all 50 states reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for driving from the existing .08 to .05, saying the level is too high and leaves some drivers still impaired even though they are operating legally. The recommendation is part of a package of 10 new suggestions and nine renewed ideas to lower the number of alcohol-related crashes. The board is also calling for more high-visibility enforcement including sobriety checkpoints and to require ignition locks for those who have been convicted or first-time offenses, said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The package of recommendations are designed to work together, but Hersman said she is hoping reducing the legal limit for alcohol consumption will serve as a deterrent to people who may be thinking of drinking while driving. 

Local business owners, lawyers and even law enforcement officials questioned if changing the limit is necessary and could cause other problems. In the United States driving laws are set state by state and currently all 50 states and all of Canada call for an alcohol limit of .08 to drive legally.

Because alcohol affects people in different ways, it is difficult to say exactly how many drinks in what time period it would take to reach an .05 level. According to one website, a 180-pound man who drank three 12-ounce beers in an hour would have a blood alcohol level of .04. A fourth beer would push him over the legal limit at .06. 

“One person can be at one drink in one hour and still be impaired but they are still not intoxicated…but some people with alcohol addiction can build up a tolerance and appear to be not as impaired,” said Baxter Chandler, a licensed social worker and the director of behavioral health at Holyoke Medical Center. 

Chandler said he feels most people are impaired at .08 blood alcohol level and some are not legally impaired at .06 but still are driving dangerously because they are too drunk.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight your charges and reduce your fines. A DUI can be costly, you can lose your license, lose your transportation, and will have to pay hefty fines. Don Ho, an established criminal defense attorney, will fight your charges and/or lower your sentence.

Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Riverside and Orange County. 

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