New report suggests lowering legal BAC level that determines impairment

A new report from a panel of researchers suggests lowering the BAC level used to determine drunkenness from 0.08 to 0.05 across the country.
(Photo courtesy: MGN Online)

A newly released report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, is calling for the legal blood alcohol content level for drivers to be lowered.

The 489-page report first suggests that the legal limit be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05 to stop drunk driving related deaths.

"Well, I mean if your goal is to eliminate or minimize alcohol related deaths, it's hard to argue against it," said Bill James, a Little Rock defense attorney who represents clients charged with DWI and DUI.

James feels with a stricter limit, his office will see more clients.

"I think it's going to cause a lot of professional people to get DWIs," said James. "It can be devastating to their position. People in the military have been thrown out of very high ranks, because they get a driving under the influence."

When it comes to determining someone's BAC level James warns breathalyzer machines aren't absolute.

"You're going to run into a situation where people are getting charged with driving while intoxicated when they're not under the influence," said James.

The report also recommended significantly increasing alcohol taxes and making it less conveniently available.

Locals shared their opinion on the proposed change.

"I totally agree, because I think they're drinking younger now," said Brenda Henton-Price. "And when you're younger you're not as responsible."

"Even though more than likely it will not work, but hopefully, it'll deter some people," said Pamela Moore.

"I think it's a great idea," said Latoya Rumph. "It should be lowered, because no one should be allowed to drink and drive. It's very dangerous."

In 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board made the same recommendation.

Each state ultimately decides what BAC limit to enforce.

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