The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the legal intoxication limit be lowered from a BAC of .08 to .05 for a driver to be charged with DWI or DUI.
The NTSB did not mince words when it released a set of interventions with the lofty goal of “eliminating alcohol-impaired driving crashes.”
"Alcohol impaired crashes are not accidents. They are crimes,” said Deborah A. P. Hersman, Chairman of the NTSB.
Among the 19 recommendations in the NTSB report – lowering the legal blood alcohol content limit to .05. That would be down from the current limit of .08.
“We’ve seen people stopped at stop signs basically passed out at the wheel with their foot on the brake and the vehicle in drive. That one’s always been kindof strange to me actually,” said Lyn Hodges, PIO with the NMSU Police Department.
NMSU police arrested 10 people last year on campus for driving while intoxicated --- of those 3 caused injuries…11 people were arrested the year before and 24 in 2010.
The university has records all the way back to 1989. The highest year on record for arrests was 1996. That year 106 people were arrested for DWI on campus.
For police, it comes down to what they see on the road from their patrol cars.
“In any given DWI encounter, we have to identify certain things prior to making a stop. We have to identify traffic violations,” said Hodges.
That’s why if the legal limit is changed, police won’t be stopping more drivers, but more of those drivers would face potential charges.
“If it’s lowered to .05, then the ones that have been marginal in the past will be presumptive as far as impairment goes.”
Besides being passed out at a stop sign, some of those reasons an officer would pull over a driver…
“…failure to maintain a lane, operating a vehicle at night without lights…speeding can be one of them.”
How much does it take to reach the limit? For a 180-pound man, 3 to 4 drinks would probably put him above the current limit of .08
A lot of factors weigh in, but the general rules for staying under .05 depends on your gender.
Men can consume two standard drinks in one hour, then one drink every hour after that.
Women can consume only one standard drink in the first hour and then one drink after that to stay under .05.
The NTSB can only make recommendations on the legal limit. But if the federal department of transportation backs the .05 limit, states could face losing federal highway money.
ON THE WEB: NTSB Press Release on "Reaching Zero" Report