Lower California DUI Limit?


The National Transportation Safety Board released a proposal to lower the blood alcohol content limit while driving from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.

The proposal, released May 14th, hopes to save between 500 and 800 lives each year from DUI related fatalities and reduce the approximately 10,000 deaths annually.

“Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented.” She went on to state that drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent or more are at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a DUI related accident where someone is injured or killed.

The states will be left to decide whether to lower their limit or not. California, who lowered its limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent in 1990, will be offered government incentives for doing so.

The American Beverage Institute was among the proposal’s opponents. “Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel,” said Sarah Longwell, the group’s managing director. “It would simply divert valuable public resources that should be used to pursue the most dangerous offenders and instead use them to target drivers engaging in perfectly safe behavior.”

You’d think that many California DUI attorneys, like myself, would be happy about the proposal because it would mean a boom in business. The fact is that many California DUI attorneys oppose the proposal. For many people, one drink could put them at a 0.05 percent or more. Not everyone will be impaired with a 0.05 percent blood alcohol content and are perfectly capable of responsibly operating a vehicle.

According to the NTSB’s own statistics, about 70 percent of all DUI related fatalities involved blood alcohol contents of 0.15 or higher. In 2009, only 1.2 percent of California DUI related crashes involved a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent.

I think our judicial and law enforcement resources might be better spent elsewhere.

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