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Suggested reduction in blood-alcohol-content levels

The National Transportation Safety Board promoted a federal law that would drop the blood-alcohol-content level for driving under the influence from .08 to .05 percent. The group feels this would increase highway safety by reducing drunk driving accidents.

One of the groups against the reduced BAC levels is at least one trade association in the restaurant industry, citing statistics that some women will attain a BAC level of .05 percent after only one drink. The group used information from a chart released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reach their conclusions. The NHSTA acts a regulatory group for highway safety and collects accident statistics.

However, the NHTSA indicated that the chart may no longer be accurate. A different chart shows the affect that a BAC level of .05 percent has on drivers, including reduced response time and reduced coordination.

A beer industry group will consider the recommendations from the NHTSA. However, the president of the organization wants legislation to focus on repeat offenders and increased penalties for those with excessively high BAC levels.

The board also recommends that law enforcement personnel take a person's driver's license if the driver does not agree to submit to a breathalyzer or if the driver registers a BAC level above a certain maximum. In addition, they are promoting the use of sensors that measure the alcohol content of air during traffic stops. If the sensor signals alcohol, law enforcement could conduct additional tests. They also encouraged ignition interlock devices for every DUI offender and want the states to increase efforts to monitor offender compliance with the IIDs.

If the new legislation is passed that drops the threshold of blood-alcohol content for impaired driving, more people could be found criminally liable for their actions. In addition, some people might file civil lawsuits as well in order to hold the responsible parties financially accountable. A personal injury attorney might be able to help clients determine an appropriate compensation amount.

Source: CNN, "Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths", Mike Ahlers, May 15, 2013

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