With approximately 10,000 drunk-driving fatalities a year, there has been a huge push toward lowering the legal limit for drinking and driving. The current legal limit is a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) level of less than .08, but advocates of this new movement would like to see it reduced to less than .05 percent. If passed, this decision would have a huge impact, so it’s important to understand the reasoning behind this push and the serious implications it would have on drivers.
A Decade-Old Decision
In the hopes of reducing drunk driving, Congress set the legal limit at .08. This decision was made over a decade ago, though, and we’re yet to see the desired results. The drunk-driving death toll and injury statistics are still very concerning, which leaves people wondering if a lower legal limit would discourage drinking and driving. “Foreign countries with stricter standards have had substantially more success…” reported a recent article.
So, how big can the difference between a BAC level of .08 and .05 percent be? The gap is surprisingly big and concerning, too. “People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking, according to government statistics. People with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely,” noted a New York Times article. What’s more, though, is the fact that the difference can be a matter of just one or two drinks.
If passed, this law could have serious ramifications for even the most social drinkers. As of now, an adult woman who weighs 130 pounds could drink approximately three drinks and remain under the legal limit. However, two drinks could bring the same woman just under the proposed legal limit of .05 percent. Although men metabolize alcohol differently, they would also see similar results. For many, drinks at happy hour could put them at risk for exceeding the legal limit.
The changes would be drastic, but that’s not to say that they wouldn’t benefit society. Much of the industrialized world operates under a legal limit of .05 percent. Clearly it can be done, and clearly they’ve seen positive results. After all, the change could decrease the chances of getting in a drinking-induced crash by almost 130 percent.
Although nothing is official yet, drivers need to be prepared for the possibility of the change happening. Drivers might also keep the roads safer if they tried to stay within the .05 percent parameter.