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States urged by federal agency to lower DUI blood alcohol limits

The National Transportation Safety Board said this week that it believes the states should lower the amount of allowable blood-alcohol concentration. This recommendation came with mixed reviews from various groups and agencies across the country. While the recommendation is unlikely to prompt immediate action by all 50 states, it could have a substantial impact on the number of people charged with drunk driving related crimes in the future.

A reduction from a 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration to 0.05 might not seem very significant to some people, however this standard could be so low that it could criminalize what many people consider a responsible limit to drinking.

A person's blood-alcohol concentration is determined by the person's gender and stature combined with the amount of alcohol consumed, and can vary on an individual basis. However, a report says that a woman weighing under 130 pounds could consume only two beverages in 90 minutes to be under the 0.05 limit. A man who weighed 180 pounds could only consumer three alcoholic beverages. This means a person who goes out to dinner and has a few drinks with dinner could be considered on the border of this limit.

This might lead to more people being stopped and arrested for drunk driving after work happy hours, or just a nice dinner accompanied by a glass or two of wine. While states might choose not to impose a new limit, the federal government might impose restrictions on highway funding to incentivize state governments to adopt a new standard, as Congress did in 2000, when contruction money was restricted to states that didn't adopt the 0.08 standard.

Source: New York Times, "States Urged to Cut Limit on Alcohol for Drivers," Matthew L. Wald, May 14, 2013

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