Should States Change Criminal Blood Alcohol Content Levels to Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents?

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Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. June 13, 2013

breathalyzer screeningIn a recent report entitled “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving,” the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) makes the case that drunk driving injuries and fatalities may be reduced by lowering the blood alcohol content (BAC) level required for a drunk driving charge.

The report highlights how countries that require a 0.05 BAC level for drivers maintained a better safety record than those where the standard was 0.08 BAC or above.

Consistency in BAC Levels

In America, law enforcement authorities a BAC limit of 0.08 as the threshold for charging drivers with driving under the influence. The recommendation from the NTSB was to adopt the lower BAC level of 0.05 in each of the 50 states.

The report points to over 10,000 deaths from substance-impaired driving in the United States with one third of all traffic-related fatalities attributed to drug or alcohol abuse. The goal of the NTSB is to reduce the number of fatalities or injuries caused by substance-impaired drivers by implementing policies that will make intoxicated drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel.

Rising BAC Levels — Rising Risk

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows the median BAC level of drivers involved in fatal collisions to be 0.15.

According to the report, automobile crashes increase 40 percent over sober driving in the 0.02-0.04 BAC range. The risk increases by 11 times when the BAC levels reach 0.05. Reaching BAC levels of 0.1 makes collisions 48 times more likely to happen. At 0.15, the likelihood of an automobile crash has increased 380 times.

Certain, Swift and Severe Punishment for Drunk Drivers

Discussion during the forum also addressed the need for consistency in enforcement, development of objective BAC measurement tools, and punishment with regard to impaired

driving. Societal tolerance for any level of traffic-related fatalities as acceptable was also identified as a hindrance to reaching zero. The panel suggested that working to make punishments certain, swift, and severe, as well as changing attitudes in society, would reduce the number of traffic-related deaths.

Have you been injured by a drunk driver? We’ll fight for your rights!

Unfortunately, many irresponsible drivers choose to operate a vehicle in an impaired condition. A lifetime of heartache and suffering for victims and their families are often the result of this shortsighted decision.

It can be difficult to know what remedies are available to the victims of drunk driving accidents. In Florida, the injury law team of Abrahamson & Uiterwyk has 100+ years of combined experience fighting for the rights of personal injury victims. Call us today at 1-855-293-5630 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

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