The federal government is focusing its efforts on drunk driving again. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states lower the legal limit of intoxication from a blood alcohol content of .08 (like it is in Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett) to .05.
But the proposal is getting opposition not only from the spirits industry and civil rights advocates, but also from an unlikely critic: Mothers Against Drunk Driving.The president of MADD, Jan Withers, said that she believes the goal of drunk driving enforcement and policymaking "is that we save as many lives as we can as soon as possible... The issue with lowering the legal limit is that it will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.”Withers believes that lawmakers and safety advocates should concentrate on halting drunk driving now.
It's easy to see how lowering the legal limit could affect drivers. While there's no scientific drinks-to-BAC formula, a 140-pound person can currently consume about three alcoholic drinks in an hour and still be legally allowed behind the wheel. But if the intoxication level were lowered to .05, that individual would be at risk of legal impairment after just two drinks.
When you take a closer look at some of the NTSB's reasoning as to why the level should be lowered, it doesn't necessarily add up. Here's one example: NTSB believes that studies indicate that while driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 puts you at a 169% greater risk of accident than when sober, the chances of that happening at a BAC of .05 is only 38% higher - which some say is equal to the distraction created by having the stereo up too loud.
Unlike many federal agencies, the NTSB can only issue recommendations, not change laws. And as of now, there doesn't seem to be any political momentum being created in Washington to institute the new BAC level.
What do you think the law should be?