NTSB Pushes For Lower Alcohol Limits

It has been 25 years since the country’s worst drunk-driving crash happened and still, drunk driving remains a national epidemic. On May 14, 1988, a pickup truck operated by an intoxicated driver traveling the wrong-way on Interstate 71 near Carrollton, Kentucky struck a school bus. This accident killed 24 teenagers and three adults and injuring 34. Since this accident, various programs and initiatives have been made to reduce drunk driving deaths. Unfortunately, thousands continue to die on our roads each year.

Related: Drunk Driving In Kentucky Takes Lives

Drunk driving takes lives
In 2011, there were 9,978 drunk driving deaths. Drunk driving took more American lives than any other form of accidental death particularly handgun murders (6,220), tornado deaths (553), aircraft deaths (401), West Nile Virus (43) and Lightning Deaths (26). Drunk driving accidents account for one-third of all traffic deaths. On the 25th anniversary of the Carrollton Bus accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended states lower drunk driving limit from 0.08% to at least 0.05%. According to NTSB officials, more than 100 countries have already adopted the 0.05% alcohol standard, Europe being one of them. In Europe, the number of drunk driving deaths has reduced by more than half within 10 years after the standard was lowered.

However, this recommendation has brought negative and unfavorable views from the different sectors of the society. These include: restaurants, beer trade groups, craft brewers and even some motorists. In an online poll conducted by USA Today, a news and information media company, the majority believed that lowering the drunk driving limit would not reduce fatalities. Dropping the alcohol legal limit means about one drink for a 120 pound woman and two drinks for a 160 pound man. This implies that one can of beer, one martini or even a splash of wine could put a driver under arrest and bear DUI consequences.

Related: Should There Be Tougher DUI Laws in Kentucky?

Will lowering the legal limit work?
Should the legal limit be lowered? No one should ever drive under the influence of alcohol or any substance. Lower limits would not have a great deterrent on drunk driving in Kentucky. This is because you can be charged and convicted if you have a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.08% or greater. You can also get pulled over if a police officer or other witness can show impairment by other means, such as observation or erratic driving. If there is testimony to this effect, then it does not matter what the BAC was, a conviction can still be obtained. With this said, please don't drink and drive. No matter what the legal limit is in your area, you need to drink responsibly. Alcohol and drugs affect your judgment and reaction skills, and both are needed to drive safely. If you've been drinking, call a cab, have someone you know take you home or, if you're at a friend's house, stay the night. These options will keep you safe and help you avoid any accidents.

Michael Schafer
The Personal Injury Attorney for Louisville and Kentucky
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