One Drink Maximum: Administration Moves To Lower Blood Alcohol Level To .05

220px-Fieldsobrietytest_usa_ctMany defense lawyers and drivers have complained that the blood-alcohol level used by states is too low and allows charges for relatively low amounts of alcohol consumption. Nevertheless, it appears that the National Transportation Safety Board will recommended that all states drop the blood-alcohol level at which motorists can be charged with driving drunk to .05, down from the current rate of .08. That will mean that an average woman will cross the threshold with only a single drink. For men, it will be a two drink maximum.

What is striking is the statement of NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, who explained that “Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable.” That would seem to favor a .00 BAL. While all agencies work to avoid all injuries and deaths, few consider it a functional goal since there are few attainable absolutes in regulations. All regulation tends to be a trade off between rivaling goals or practices. Drinking is legal and most people believe that they can drive safely with a single drink. There is no question that the alcohol diminishes driving ability even with a single drink but the new level could result in a massive expansion of drivers under court supervision or suspension.

In defense of NTSB, they claim that more than 100 countries have adopted the .05 alcohol content standard or lower. Yet, this is a change that will receive little debate outside of the NTSB. An issue of this importance used to be the subject of considerable debate in Congress (or more importantly, in state legislatures) but with the rise of the “Fourth Branch” of federal agencies, such decisions are increasingly decided by federal bureaucracies that are fairly insulated from the public. They are then imposed on the states through federal conditional spending.

Many states are likely to balk at the decision given the already vocal opposition over the current standard. However, the federal government is expected to threaten states with the loss of federal funding for highways if they do not do exactly what they are told. No state (particularly in this economy) can afford to forgo federal funds for roads. While the Supreme Court suggested in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius that the federal government could go too far in coercing states (in that case by threatening Medicaid), it has long allowed the use of federal conditions for highway funding. This encourages Congress to take in more taxes than it needs to return the money to the state with conditions or federal mandates.

States may also be ordered to implement alcohol ignition interlock devices. The cost of these devices is imposed on the drivers in the form of a $50 to $100 purchase price plus a $50 a month fee to operate.

With the increasing use of sobriety roadblocks where drivers are asked if they had anything to drink (and most answer truthfully), the result could be a much higher “yield” in arrests.

What do you think about the new regulation on BAL?

Source: USA Today

87 thoughts on “One Drink Maximum: Administration Moves To Lower Blood Alcohol Level To .05”

  1. P Smith,

    It’s simple for you, you can’t deal with a country founded on Freedom/Liberty & you’ve been distracted from the real issues by those in positions of power that have you off chasing their distracting narrative of .05 limit.

    .08 is already to low & it’s meant to be so by those profit from the current police/prison state

    You should just move to Canada.

    Nice show today below:

  2. The arguments and mental disconnect of people are absolutely stunning. I would wager that most of those griping about a.05 limit are the very same people who have no problem with drug testing for employees in the public and/or private sector.

    A person who smoked a joint four weeks ago will pose no danger to anyone, yet will be fired from (or not hired for) a job after testing positive. Meanwhile, a person who is drunk and incapable of driving safely (but under the .08 limit) will be allowed to drive and possibly end up killing someone. That’s bass ackwards and makes absolutely no sense.

    For those who say “breathalizers aren’t accurate”, so what? Blood testing at a hospital is accurate, unless the technician fakes the result to help corrupt cops (a redundancy) obtain a false conviction.

    Personally, I’d rather see the US adopt the Canadian view on drinking and driving – if you refuse to take a breathalizer test, you’re automatically guilty. People shouldn’t be driving period if they have any alcohol in their system.

    1. P Smith — exactly. It’s not mandatory to drink before driving. Don’t drink and don’t kill somebody.

  3. Darren,
    Thanks for the seminar on presumptive intoxication levels. I can’t believe that you said some LEO’s are arrogant! 🙂
    so the insurance companies want the level lowered to charge more money for insurance and they also want limits on tort claims that benefits the insurance companies. A double whammy.

  4. “The [NTSB] staff report suggests that if the BAC standard is lowered, between 500 and 800 lives could be saved every year.”

    That’s it? How much more revenue would be collected? How many more people would be sentenced to private prisons?

    No one is FOR people driving drunk! But people are also driving while eating, putting on make-up, talking on cellphones, and texting. Most states don’t even HAVE laws against texting. Don’t get me started on ELDERLY drivers!

    We can’t get any laws changed on firearms and I’m pretty sure more than 800 people will be killed by guns this year.

  5. Pete:

    In WA a person can be charged by a LEO for less than .08 if the officer can articulate impairment. Sometimes it is the case where the alcohol consumption is less than .08 and they were taking drugs as well. But if alcohol is the sole intoxicant they could be charged as you have said.

    THis is why it is called “presumptive intoxication level” because it is presumed due to its statutory definition as being above the legal level.

    There are people out there who have a strong impairment to alcohol compared to the average person based upon BAC level. By the same token there are also those out there who can almost fly through field sobriety tests and only a very experienced officer can determine if they are impaired. And there are those who will fail several tests when they are completely sober. Then it becomes the worrisome area of officer discretion.

    I had a lengthy argument with an officer who thought she was a so called “expert” in DUI enforcement who said I should have arrested a woman who I stopped for a traffic violation, had alcohol on her breath, and passed all the physical tests except the several gaze nystagmus tests. The other officer claimed that it was impossible for someone to fail a gaze nystagmus test and not be impaired. I told her there were people out there who have neurological conditions that cause this to happen even while they are sober. (optic nerve hypoplasia is one of them) Some officers are arrogant and will never listen. So, it is best to stay with standard presumptive intoxication levels and not get involved in the gray areas.

  6. Pete and chuck

    The BAC DataMasters we used in WA were able to distinguish between Acetone and Alcohol. It would throw an error and you would have to start over if this happened. I only had this happen about three times and only one of those showed acetone on the subsequent test.

  7. The way to stop Congress from allowing some agency to impose this on the states as a condition of federal funding is to do turnabout is fair play.

    We ned a law of zero tolerance for Congressmen/women while they are in Washington DC. This is a 24/7 requirement because they decide the content of new laws 24/7 and indeed most laws are formulated at the bar at the Marriot or Willard Hotel. We can not have them intoxicated when they make laws. It is worse than a drunk driver. So write your Congressman and demand that he promote and pass a District of Columbia law which prevents Congress men and women from drinking in public or in the Halls of Congress and certaintly at the Willard.

    1. Hell, my Congressman, Rep Brady was arrested in South Dakota on a DUI not too long ago. He was well over the .08 limit too. Raising the limit would not stop him at all. Then we have Pres. W Bush and Cheney who both got TWO DUIs apiece. So I think that getting a DUI should be grounds for expulsion from Congress at least.

  8. here in floriduh you can get a dui at .04 bac at officer discretion. that means if you can’t afford a lawyer, you get a dui.

    and what OS wrote at the begining, some solvents (acetone) on your hands and you can ring the bell on a breathalizer.

  9. The .05 BAC rate for the general population will result in a defacto zero tolerence for alcohol use type of enforcement program

    And what Mark E. said.

  10. ** Chris K 1, May 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Good. My cousin was killed by a drunk driver. **

    Chris about 400 to 450 people a year are killed every year falling out of bed.

    Are you going to also ban beds while you’re crusading to ban everything?

  11. Good. My cousin was killed by a drunk driver. What’s going to happen too when all these “medicinal” weed-happy people start piling it on? If you’re going to drive, don’t drink, or don’t drink later in the evening before getting into the car.

  12. Bron,

    I wasn’t sweating the Tabasco comment although I do like it well enough (especially the green). I use local favorite Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce. Or Sriracha.

  13. .05= 1 drink for a woman and 2 for a man? DWF is going to be a problem like DWB is for the purpose of drinking and driving, at least on Friday and Saturday evenings. Leave it at .08 for women.

  14. Oky1:

    it was like that 50 years ago in most places. Today, I still think out of 100 people 85 to 90 would not bother your car or your rifle. 5% would turn you in for having a rifle in the window and 10% would steal your rifle and car.

    We just dont have enough liberty. If you can and dont purchase insurance, dont expect society to bail you out. No need for mandatory laws, just let reality take care of it.

  15. Gene H:

    the problem with the food is sugar, fat and salt. The prepared food companies use it in abundance much to our harm.

    I was just joking around about Tabasco.

  16. “make fun all you want Gene” – Bron

    Don’t mind if I do!

    Don’t get me wrong. The adulteration of our food supply and water pollution are very serious problems. In fact, probably two of the most significant logistical problems our species as a whole face.

    But a little joking never killed anyone.

    Except maybe Caligula.

    And he had it coming anyway.

  17. Mayberry never existed except in a fantasy world. Oky 1 Jailers abused many women and minorities.

  18. Back in the day some High School students would come to school with loaded rifles hanging on a gun rack in their pickups during deer season.

    They’d leave the keys in the truck & sometimes the windows would be rolled down.

    Nobody bothered the guns or the vehicles & there were no school shootings.

    What happened? What changed from back then?

    Here in Oklahoma it was legal for a 16 old gal to go buy hard liquor.


    Guys back then had to be 21.

    So if a young guy wanted to drink he was encouraged to get a girl friend.

    And if someone was driving that had to much to drink LE would have you park the car off the road & he’d drive you home.

    There was no mandatory car insurance laws & insurance was dirt cheap because of no law.

    The polecats, who had sold out to the insurance co’s, claimed insurance would get cheaper with a law. Car insurance doubled here the day after the law passed.

    The something we’re seeing now with healthcare insur.

    Back then there was a lot of respect for LE.

    Today with all the police state stuff/rapes/beatings/murders/unlawful behavior by LE, caught on cameras, pushed by DC/state houses most all that goodwill towards LE is evaporating like a mud puddle in August sun.

    This is not a good thing for our communities or LE as it’s making things more dangerous for all parties.

    Can we ever get turned around back towards Mayberry?

    I hope so.

  19. My big problem with a .05 suggestion is that it’s a bright line test for law enforcement, but a complete guess for me. In other words, I do not own a breathalyzer that I can use to test myself every time before driving. There are some guidelines about how much you can drink based on your gender and weight and time in which consumed. But, actual BAC can be affected by many, many other factors such as drink strength, individual metabolism, food consumption, medication, etc. (not to mention test error on the part of LE). Given the severity and expense of being charged with DWI, the only smart thing to do for someone who wants to comply with the law is to try to stay well under the legal limit. At .08, I’m pretty confident I can drink two beers; a level at which I do not feel my driving is significantly impaired. I’d be at or over the .05 limit with two beers however. If you want to be safe, moving to .05 becomes one drink for most men and no drinks for most women.

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