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Party People, Prepare for a .05 DUI Alcohol Limit

Party People, Prepare for a .05 DUI Alcohol Limit
Timothy Norris for L.A. Weekly

If you thought .08 was a tough blood alcohol limit for driving under the influence, just wait.

There's a movement afoot to lower the threshold to .05, which some of the lighter weights among us could hit in under an hour with just a few drinks under their belts. In fact:

The American Beverage Institute says the average woman could reach the .05 limit after just one drink in one hour.

This week the National Transportation Safety Board voted unanimously to recommend that states drop from current nationwide standard of .08 to a new one of .05.

As you approach the weekend, we know this is a bummer. However, here's what the NTSB says: It could save lives.

The board blames nearly 10,000 deaths a year on drunk driving and says the new standard could save as many as 800 of them.

Party People, Prepare for a .05 DUI Alcohol Limit
Brian Erzen for LA Weekly

The Beverage Institute, however, says such a new limit would "criminalize" everyday people who go out for dinner and drinks, noting that the average BAC (blood-alcohol content) of a DUI driver involved in a fatal crash is .16, or twice today's legal limit.

The Institute says only 1 percent of the 32,000 fatal crashes in the United States in 2011 involved people with a BAC level between .05 and .08.

What's more, one of the group's leaders asks why, after Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other anti-drunk-driving groups got the threshold lowered from .15 to .10 to .08 by arguing it "was absolutely, unequivocally where the legal threshold should be set," are we now looking at .05?

Sarah Longwell, managing director of the Institute:

This is the latest attempt by traffic-safety activist groups to expand the definition of 'drunk'. A little over a decade ago, we lowered our legal limit from 0.1 percent after groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving assured the country that, based on all the science, 0.08 BAC was absolutely, unequivocally where the legal threshold should be set for drunk driving. Has the science changed? Or have anti-alcohol activists simply set their sights on a new goal?

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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