Feds want to lower drunk driving level to .05 in New Jersey
Get ready for a lot of bars and restaurants to go out of business. The NTSB wants the legal standard for drunk driving to be lowered from .08 to .05.
"We know that impairment begins before a person's BAC reaches 0.08 percent. By the time it reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That is why states should lower BAC levels to 0.05 — or even lower," NTSB officials wrote.
Sounds so impressive, right? Why wouldn't we want to do this, right?
We wouldn't want to do this because drivers with a BAC between .01 and .08 account for only 5% of all highway deaths. Take away .01 to .049 and that leaves in place a certain portion of that 5%. We wouldn't want to do this because while someone with a BAC of .05 is 38% more likely to have a crash than a stone cold sober person, a driver with a BAC of .08 is 200% more likely to have a crash than an abstainer. So you see it sounds significant to say a 38% increase, but that's dwarfed by the more real danger of a 200% increase. We wouldn't want to do this because it means a 140 pound woman will find herself in handcuffs after only 2 glasses of wine. We wouldn't want to do this because things have already been getting better. From 1982 and 1994, the total number of people killed in crashes involving a driver who was impaired dropped by 37 percent. In the time since, the figure has declined by 26 percent. Things are getting better.
The NTSB is making the .05 argument saying your driving is affected before reaching a .08. Undoubtedly true, but so many other things affect your driving as well. Getting 5 hours sleep versus 7 hours sleep. Skipping a meal. Having a cold. Is the marginal good that will come from a .05 drunk driving standard worth the bad it will bring? Is it worth the 100 pound woman who had one glass of wine and happens to get pulled over for a broken tail light being put in jail? She will be driving drunk even if she feels absolutely steady in her driving. Is it worth the financial blow to the bar and restaurant business which translates to lost jobs? And consider this: It takes time to process a driver arrested for drunk driving, so is it worth spreading our law enforcement thin? What I mean is, every time you take a .05 driver off the road, you're also for a time taking an officer off the road that could have been out catching the much more dangerous .08, .11, or .15 driver. Is it worth it?
You tell us. Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comment section below.