NTSB says dropping legal limit for blood-alcohol level in drivers will save lives

Published: Tuesday, May 14 2013 6:55 p.m. MDT

"We hope there's a deterrent effect. We hope that folks will be responsible and realize either that they're endangering other people if they exceed that limit or they're going to face some severe consequences if they do."

Draxler said he could also see support in Utah for the NTSB recommendations. The proposal has the support of the Utah Highway Patrol if it will take even one drunken driver off the road.

"We support the NTSB's decision to reduce fatalities through a reduction of the BAC levels," Cpl. Todd Johnson, public information officer for the Utah Highway Patrol, said. Johnson said he has seen drivers who were impaired with levels around 0.03 percent and 0.04 percent.

"However, we recognize that it will take time to pass legislation, to make it effective in Utah and to train officers and prosecutors if it were to become effective."

Utah and Oregon were the first two states to adopt a 0.08 percent level in 1983. In 2001, federal law was passed to allow lawmakers to withhold federal funding for highways if a states did not implement enforcement of the 0.08 level. Delaware was the last state to adopt the 0.08 percent level in 2004.

What does .05 look like?

Blood-alcohol content can vary according to factors such body weight, gender, age, medication and the type of drink. On average, the Utah Highway Patrol estimates that driving impairment can begin anywhere from a half to two drinks, or 0.01 to 0.02 percent. Concentration, judgment and reactions are delayed from one to four drinks or 0.03 to 0.07 percent.

Battling drunken driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has measured ways to prevent injury and death from impaired driving:

Actively enforcing existing 0.08 percent blood alcohol level laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old in all states.

Promptly taking away the driver's license of people who drive while intoxicated.

  • Using sobriety checkpoints.

    Putting health promotion efforts into practice that influence economic, organizational, policy, and school/community action.

    Using community-based approaches to alcohol control and DUI prevention.

    Requiring mandatory substance abuse assessment and treatment, if needed, for offenders.

    Raising the unit price of alcohol by increasing taxes.

    Source: www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Impaired_Driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

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