Archive for May 16th, 2013

Reactions to the Fed’s New .05% Limit

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

A couple of days ago I commented on the just-released recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board for a new drunk driving blood-alcohol limit of .05%.  Following are a few of the reactions….


Feds Float Lower DWI Limit; Some Say It Will Reduce Fatalities; Others Say It's a Money-Grab

Newsday, New York.  May 14 — One drink for a 120 pound woman, two drinks for a 160 pound man.

That's all it would take to be considered legally drunk under a new federal recommendation to lower the driving while intoxicated blood-alcohol limit from .08 percent to .05 percent. It's another step in what the National Transportation Safety Board calls "Reaching Zero," a long-term effort to reduce the number of drunken driving-related fatalities.

"It is an aggressive approach," said Jared Altman, a Montrose-based defense attorney. "One would be surprised at how little you can drink and hit the .08 limit now."

Reaction to the NTSB's recommendation on Tuesday ranged from full support from road safety advocacy groups to a cautious wait-and-see approach from others.

White Plains-based attorney Richard Portale said changing the definition of "intoxicated" every few years is disingenuous. He said he'd be more willing to support the law if it merely set a limit for driving and did not try to redefine intoxication, but said he believes it's ultimately a "money-grab" by the government. Several studies have found that towns and cities enjoy a boom in court fees and related fines when blood-alcohol limits are lowered.

"They're dying for money. They don't get enough of our tax money, so now they want to change our DWI laws to generate more revenue," Portale said…

If lawmakers act on the NTSB's recommendation and lower the legal limit for drivers, it would mark the second time in a decade that the limit was lowered. New York lowered the legal limit from .10 to .08 in 2003, two years after president Bill Clinton signed a law that would withhold federal aid to states that did not lower limits to that number…

A 2000 study by Boston University's Social and Behavioral Sciences Department found that states that had dropped BAC limits to .08 percent saw a 6 percent decline in alcohol-related deaths. But a 2002 study by Connecticut's Office of Legislative Research found there was "no statistical difference" between the rate of fatalities between states with a .10 blood alcohol limit and states with a .08 limit.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving on Tuesday thanked the NTSB "for bring the American public's attention to the fact that drinking and driving continues to be a major problem on our highways … and that additional steps have to be taken to save the unnecessary loss of life and injuries that occur as a result of these crashes."…
 

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