How Much Is Too Much? Drinking and Driving

Oct 31, 2016

Drunk driving is a common topic of discussion in today’s society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people are killed each day in motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers. That is one person killed every 53 minutes.

To reduce alcohol related-accident deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for the legal breath alcohol concentration (BAC) limit while driving to be lowered from .08 to .05. The NTSB says that impairment of driving skills starts before reaching the .08 limit. Law enforcement personnel have said that the current limit may cause drivers to think that driving under that limit is safe.

Just how much alcohol a person can drink and still be competent to drive is different for different people and under different circumstances. A person’s body weight plays a big role in alcohol effect, as does food intake during the period of alcohol consumption. The NTSB believes that a lower limit is the best approach to discouraging impaired driving.

BAC charts show that a 160 to 180 pound man would reach the proposed level somewhere between his second and third drink. A drink is considered one 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of 80-proof liquor. Under the current limit, the same man could consume about four drinks before reaching that level.

The federal government cannot impose the new limit. Drunk driving laws are set by state law. It can, however, condition federal money on states agreeing to the lower level. That is how the current level came into effect. Between 1983 and 2004, all 50 states eventually adopted the .08 level to avoid the loss of federal money. The NTSB first called for the .05 limit in 2013, but there hasn’t been much enthusiasm for the change.

It does not appear likely the proposed limit will be implemented anytime soon. No state has made any effort to put it into effect, and the federal government will probably be reluctant to try to force it on the states.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be entitled to money damages. The attorneys at Wright Pichon & Gray know that accidents cause can completely change your life. We will help you get back on track. Contact us today for a free case review.

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