Lower Blood Alcohol Content Levels to Lower Drunk Driving Deaths

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation for all states to lower their blood alcohol content (BAC) level, which determines if a person is legally drunk behind the wheel. Today, this BAC level in all 50 states is .08. The NTSB wants states to adopt a lower BAC level of .05.

There are at least 10,000 sobering reasons to do so. That’s about the number of people killed in drunk-driving accidents each year in this country. When issuing its recommendation, the NTSB said that lowering the BAC level to .05 could save 1,000 lives each year.

In Illinois, 30 percent of all driving fatalities in 2011 were from drunk-driving related accidents. That same year in Missouri, a full third of those who died in traffic accidents did so in drunk-driving crashes.

Dangerous Effects of Drinking and Driving

The NTSB suggests that at .07 – below the current .08 BAC – many people struggle with significant driving impairments. At the much lower BAC of .05, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the dangerous effects on a person’s driving include:

  • Reduced coordination
  • Difficulty steering
  • Diminished ability to track or focus on moving objects
  • Inappropriate response to emergency driving situations
  • Lowered alertness and impaired judgment

In media coverage announcing the NTSB’s recommendation, it was reported that the risk of having an accident at a BAC of .05 increases 39 percent, while it increases by more than 100 percent at the current .08 BAC.

The NTSB is an independent federal agency but has no power to turn its recommendations into law. So it still remains up to the individual states to lower their legal BAC levels. The last time the BAC content was lowered, from .10 to .08, it took 21 years for all 50 states to come aboard.

Regardless of the BAC level, those who injure or kill others while driving drunk should be held responsible for their negligent actions and provide compensation to their victims.