Criminal Defense in Orange County

National BAC Benchmark Could be Lowered

For over a decade, the legal limit at which a person can be charged with a DUI is .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). According to federal safety officials, the national BAC limit needs to be lowered to .05 percent to reduce the overall number of annual drunk driving incidents. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a recent meeting on the topic and strongly suggested that all 50 states lower the BAC threshold. The NTSB says that doing so will save lives. Statistically, about 10,000 people are killed every year by drunk drivers.

These proposed new limits would not eradicate all drunk driving crashes, of course, but the NTSB believes it could significantly reduce that number from 10,000 to about 9,000. DUI laws were changed in the 1980s as well as in the early 2000s. From the year 1980 to 2011, the number of DUI fatalities dropped from 20,000 per year to just under 10,000 per year. There is a complex science behind DUI. Let's say that a 180-pound man drinks four drinks within one hours' time. If he gets behind the wheel, it is estimated that he would be driving with a .08 percent BAC. By lowering the BAC ceiling to .05, that same man could have a .05 percent BAC after only two or three drinks.

These are important figures to keep in mind, because there is a strong likelihood that these new DUI standards will be implemented. Keep in mind that a person's height, weight and overall body type can significantly affect their BAC. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so don't take a BAC calculator's word for it when trying to estimate how many drinks you can get in before you are legally intoxicated.

The NTSB has suggested lowering the BAC to .05 percent along with other new rules as a part of its "Reaching Zero" initiative. The goal of this initiative is to completely eliminate drunk driving in the United States. The NTSB does not have legislative power, but their suggestions are heavily taken into consideration. Other proposed laws include allowing police to confiscate licenses from DUI violators more easily. Also, in California and in other states, the ignition interlock device (IID) is only required for serious DUI offenders and repeat offenders. The NTSB may be able to implement first-time DUI offender IID installation laws.

The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs supports the NTSB's efforts to reduce the number of traffic deaths due to drunk driving. These are tragic occurrences and every effort should be made to reduce and eliminate these accidents. Should this proposal become law, many individuals who may not have faced DUI charges before could be faced with the reality of conviction. It will now take fewer drinks for someone to be declared legally intoxicated.