Will a BAC Limit of .05 Really Make a Big Difference?

By Mary Ann


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made their recommendation. Now the states can decide if they want to adjust the BAC threshold from .08 to .05 and the federal government can decide if they want to provide incentives to push states in one direction or another.

Considering it took 24 years to get all 50 states to change the BAC limit from .15 to .08 (1980-2004), we may be talking about this for quite some time.

The real question is: If this new threshold goes into effect, what will the impact be?

The NHTSA is looking at how many lives will be saved but is this .05 to .08 BAC group of people the people to be most concerned about?

In an August 2012 report, the NHTSA reported that of all alcohol impaired driving fatalities, 70% involved a driver with a BAC of .15 or more.

In fact, in 2010, the most common BAC on record in fatal crashes involving drinking drivers was .18.

Given that many DUI fatalities result from crashes where a driver had a BAC higher than .08, how likely is it that further lowering the BAC limit will have a strong impact on these drivers who are involved in the majority of alcohol impaired driving fatalities?

While lowering the BAC level further may help to prevent additional fatalities, perhaps more focus needs to be directed to increasing focus and penalities on the higher BAC groups.

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