New Study Calls for Lowering the Drunk Driving Threshold

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The National Academy of Sciences has released a lengthy report on drunk driving, which recommends, among other things, lowering the blood-alcohol level for what constitutes drunk driving to .05 from .08. Fox News reports:

"A prestigious scientific panel is recommending that states significantly lower their drunken driving thresholds as part of a blueprint to eliminate the "entirely preventable" 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths in the United States each year.

The U.S. government-commissioned, 489-page report by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released Wednesday throws the weight of the scientific body behind lowering the blood-alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05. All states have 0.08 thresholds. A Utah law passed last year that lowers the state's threshold to 0.05 doesn't go into effect until Dec. 30.

The amount of alcohol required to reach 0.05 would depend on several factors, including the person's size and whether the person has recently eaten. A 150-pound man might be over the 0.05 limit after two beers, while a 120-pound woman could exceed it after a single drink, according to the American Beverage Institute, a national restaurant group.

The panel also recommended that states significantly increase alcohol taxes and make alcohol less conveniently available, including reducing the hours and days alcohol is sold in stores, bars and restaurants..."

More here.

Both the American Beverage Licensees and the Distilled Spirits Council issued statements opposing the report's call for lowering the threshold, arguing that doing so distracts from efforts to crackdown on repeat drunk driving offenders and heavy binge drinkers, who constitute the majority of drunk drivers on the road today.

As Fox News article notes, Utah recently passed a law lowering its drunk driving threshold to .05, a change which was met with severe resistance (even the founder of MADD opposed the change). In fact, Utah's governor has suggested that the new law might be tweaked in response to the pushback.