Federal Agency Pushes for Lower Blood Alcohol Limit in Effort to Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents

Trusted Content

Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. June 20, 2013

In May 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation that the laws of all states impose a lower blood alcohol content level as the standard for drunk driving.

The consensus is that fatal automobile accidents involving drunk driving in the United States occurs with unacceptable frequency. The NTSB believes that moving from the current 0.08 blood alcohol level standard to the accepted international standard of 0.05 is a step toward decreasing impaired driving.

Mixed Reviews for Agency’s Recommendations

The NTSB recommendation has been met by mixed reviews. While no one disagrees with the statistics used by NTSB, some groups such as the restaurant and beverage industry strongly disagree with the recommendation. Statements made by the American Beverage Institute expressed concern that the NTSB ignored established facts and targeted moderate drinkers.

Reducing Deaths Caused by Impaired Driving

The goal of the NTSB is to eliminate drunk driving altogether. This recommendation has been lauded as a step toward that goal. While many factors affect blood alcohol content such as weight and gender, the board believes at a 0.05 blood alcohol content a driver is impaired.

They point to a drop in coordination, steering difficulty, delayed reaction time for emergency situations and inability to track moving objects are all evident at 0.05 blood alcohol content levels. However, some proponents of driving safety believe that the acceptable blood alcohol content should be even lower.

Recommendation has MADD’s Support

MADD welcomes the NTSB’s recommendation while expressing concern that it is not enough. The Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving (CEDD) is MADD’s three-pronged effort structured to maximize lives saved.

This campaign has been adopted as a national policy and includes high visibility enforcement, using ignition locks for convicted offenders, and development of technology to prevent starting a car while drunk. MADD has always provided support to victims of substance impaired driving without regard to impairment levels.

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