By on May 15, 2013
Aftermath of Carrollton, KY  bus crash May 14, 1988.

Aftermath of Carrollton, KY bus crash May 14, 1988.

No one is in favor of drunk driving. Don’t do it. Now that I’ve completed the ritualistic incantation prior to writing a piece about drunk driving, let’s hit the jump and discuss the latest proposal from the NTSB.

Yesterday the NTSB began a campaign using its bully pulpit to encourage state legislatures to adopt a per se blood alcohol content limit of 0.05%, a significant reduction from the current standard of 0.08%.  It’s common in other countries, particularly European ones, to have the limit set that low. However, as with, well, everything, at some point you reach a point of diminishing returns.

The usual suspects are lining up on both sides. The NTSB has no regulatory authority, so it can’t impose this. However, as with the campaigns to lower the limit from 0 .10 to 0.08 and the push for mandatory seatbelt usage, eventually the threat of withholding Federal highway funds from states that don’t adopt the lower limit will bring the states in line. The insurance companies are on board, of course, with the NTSB’s recommendation. Advocacy from MADD will most certainly begin apace.

On the other side you have the MOD squad, represented in the Post piece I linked to above by Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute.  Ms. Longwell pointed out that fatalities aren’t occurring at .05 to .08. They occur most often at .16 or higher. God speed, Ms. Longwell. You’re about to get the opportunity to really earn what I’m sure is the quite handsome salary that ABI pays you.

So, in a nutshell the facts are these: The NTSB proposes lowering the per se BAC limit to 0.05%.  They have no legal authority to enforce such a recommendation, but they don’t need it because their sister agencies and (let’s not forget this) private associations like the IIHS and MADD  have both the legal means and the moral authority to accomplish what the NTSB wants anyway.   They’ll work to push it through.

On the other side you have the ABI and… selfish alcoholics? People who don’t care to get blitzed (and then endanger themselves and their fellow citizens) allied with the greedy capitalists (with blood stained hands) looking to turn a profit are the only ones who will do much more than raise token opposition to this proposal.

That’s the problem. The motives and the storyline are set and the characters have all been cast.  Rant all you want about “unconscionable Federal power grabs” and wave your dog-eared copies of Thomas Paine. A betting man would figure that the limit will be 0.05% before the decade is over and buy stock in O’Douls.

We can deride the NTSB, IIHS, and MADD as “nanny staters” and the like, but in the end, they’re not wrong. Places, such as Australia, that have lowered their limit to 0.05 have seen a reduction in DUI related fatalities. 12% in the case of Australia. That’s not nothing.

To argue the other side means that we have to recognize, and agree to live with, an “acceptable level of DUI related fatalities,”  to paraphrase the British during the hey- day of IRA bombings and Ulstermen knee cappings,Who wants to stand up and say “Almost 10,000 men, women, and children were killed in DUI related crashes last year and I say that’s still not enough!”

If we could guarantee that only drunk drivers and, perhaps, their passengers would be the only fatalities in DUI related crashes, then most of us would be on board, the way laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets have been repealed.  It doesn’t work that way. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Carrollton bus crash. While largely forgotten elsewhere, it approaches something close to a state day of mourning in Kentucky.  The NTSB wasn’t particularly shy about using the anniversary as a backdrop for its announcement either.

Of course, a 0.05% limit wouldn’t have mattered in the Carrollton case. The driver who hit the bus, causing it to erupt into a fireball that killed 27 people, was at a 0.24% BAC level. Sentenced to just 16 years, Larry Mahoney spent less than 10 in prison after a jury of his peers elected to convict him of involuntary manslaughter instead of Murder.

So what’s to be done? Or not done? I’ll close with these few personal points and then turn it over to the B&B to hash out in the comments thread. I don’t drink very much. A six pack of Bud Light in the fridge will normally last me month.  Lowering the BAC limit to 0.05% won’t affect me personally.  Two drinks at dinner won’t put a guy in my weight class in any jeopardy of violating per se.

However, a single drink would probably put a 120 lb (or less) woman in jeopardy of per se. Two drinks will do it now at the 0.08% limit for many women.  That’s not “fair,” not that “fair” has anything to do with anything any more.

I was also never much of a “drunk hunter” in my patrol days. I’d take a DUI if it rolled in front of me, but I was never one to lurk around bars and wait to see a drunk stumble out to his car. Some guys, particularly in some of the third shift squads that overlapped with me on second shift, were like that. I never cared for those guys, not because I didn’t consider ‘sporting” to fish for drunks in a baited pond or because I felt sorry for the poor schmucks they were popping for DUI. I didn’t like those guys because they’d get themselves tied up on a DUI arrest for two to three hours, leaving me and my fellow second shift officers to continue to catch calls after we’d already been running call to call for six hours before they came on shift. (Not particularly noble, but it is what it is.)

I can say that of the DUIs I did arrest back in the day, I never had one that I stopped on suspicion of DUI for driving in what we will call a stereotypically drunk manner (weaving, too slow, crossing the center line, etc.) who was under a 0.10.  Sure, I caught a few that were less than that after I stopped them for something else that sober drivers sometimes do, like running a light or an equipment violation, and detected alcohol when I made contact with them. But for the behaviors that we all generally recognize as “drunk driving?” Never under a 0.10 and usually 0.12 or greater. I know, I know. Anecdotal evidence, particularly personal anecdotal evidence, doesn’t count.

What counts are studies, which the NTSB has in droves. In fact, one of the little nuggets in their announcement yesterday was that their research has shown that impairment can start as low as 0.01%.  Take a healthy swig during Communion and risk losing your license? Admittedly, that’s hyperbole, but it’s not far off.

I’m not in favor of drunk driving. No one is. But I truly believe that we’re past the point of diminishing returns on per se BAC. Arresting more people for having drunk less alcohol is bad policy. Keep the levels the same, but let’s get serious about the penalties. DUI law as it’s currently written serves mainly to feed the courts and the lawyers while ensuring that the suspects get off with relatively light penalties particularly for the first and second offenses. Getting a DUI will cost you a lot in court costs and lawyer’s fees, but it doesn’t really hurt you. If DUI is as deadly as we all seem to believe it is, then let’s stiffen the jail terms and driver’s licensing penalties for it and concentrate on waging a little shock and awe on first and second offenders. That would be a better tribute to the victims of crimes like Carrollton.

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120 Comments on “How Low Can You Go: NTSB Proposes Lowering BAC limit to 0.05...”


  • avatar
    David Hester

    It should be 0.05% in the first paragraph, not 0.005%. Seems obvious, but you never can tell once our various regulatory agencies start trying to protect us from ourselves.

    • 0 avatar
      bludragon

      Indeed, for a moment I thought I might be in trouble just from eating an over-ripe banana.

      I think the real solution is to put some money into changing the social attitude of the general population towards driving home after having a drink or two or three or four…

    • 0 avatar

      “It’s not that we want to drive drunk and crash our cars into a family of 4… it’s that we can’t figure out a way to GET THE CAR BACK TO THE HOUSE…”

      -Sam Kinison

  • avatar
    keet

    granted, this has been started by the NTSB, it will probably move forward because the government stopped being about truly protecting its citizen’s years ago, it’s now all about increasing revenue.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      truth, you speak it.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        True that, but let’s look who is making the revenue. Not the government, but the greedy bastard 1%’ers who are make a fortune in the insurance industry who engineer ways to screw us out of our money, This is even better than red light cameras and speed traps because not only do they get to surcharge somebody for 10 years, they get their fat cat lawyer friends rich defending them.

        A 12 percent reduction certainly is nothing to sneeze at but would we see the same here? Was some of that reduction simply the result of not going out in the car in the first place?

        • 0 avatar
          needsdecaf

          They don’t? You ever see how much in fines you have to pay for a DUI conviction?

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            The fines are like the deck chair on the Queen Mary. They are minimal in comparison to the legal fees and insurance surcharges…

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            A succinct proof of why this “1%er” class-warfare nonsense is (a) effective and (b) bullshit — get fired up at the private-sector fat cats, let the public-sector ones off the hook.

            Congratulations. You fell for it.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    Enforcement and sentencing need to be the focus, not the number (although changing the number doesn’t take much.)

    John

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Even MADD is saying this. The problem with the current system is that they won’t take away a license, but want the individual to keep driving. That way they can spend more money on insurance, court costs, mandatory breathalyzers, etc. That’s where the money is. Taking them off the road by suspending their license and jail time don’t produce that revenue.

      • 0 avatar
        Ihateusernames

        They want them to stay driving so they can stay working, and you know pay their mortgage, childcare, health expenses…

        Taking an economicly productive person, taking away their licence and/or saddling them with a felony record has a lot more consequence then the 6 months w/o driving.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          This has no affect on anything. Drunks are not deterred from DUI. This has no teeth.

          A drunk could kill someone with their car and face no jail time. Entire families have been wiped out by drunk drivers. The victims’ lives were cut short, but the drunk driver lives free to drive drunk another day, and maybe kill someone else, again and again.

          The problem is that there are no severe repercussions from DUI. They could lower the BAC to 0.01 and it still would not matter since the drunks know that the worst that could happen to them is that they get fined or maybe have to attend AA classes.

          Even if the state takes away their drivers license that does not preclude them from driving without a license. Happens all the time. No jail time for that either. Just a fine.

          I say, commit a DUI and face jail time. Kill someone while DUI and go to prison.

          All they get now is a slap on the wrist. People who have lost a loved one to a drunk driver see the whole thing differently and much more passionately.

          This just gives cops a freer hand to mine the highways and byways of the nation for additional revenues, just like in the case of speeding tickets.

          • 0 avatar
            wumpus

            This proposal isn’t targeted at “drunks” at all. One beer one hour ago and you could hit 5% (easy for small women). Even 8% would be safe if there was any reason to believe drivers would actually pay attention to where they are going.

            Anyone know if 8-11%BAC has any correlation between belief that they can fiddle with personal electronics arbitrarily long without looking up to drive? It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s dunning kruger in a bottle.

  • avatar
    ant

    The limit is .04 for me, cause I’m a truck driver. I wonder why that is.

    Some dude I know got 3 DUI’s, so his limit is .04 as well. He spent all day at the bar with some buddies, stayed relatively sober, but still got his 4th cause he blew .04 after the cop staked out the bar and pulled him over for a center brake light being out.

    Now the rest of us have to pay for his incarceration for a year.

    Is it really too much to ask that people be actually, you know, “intoxicated” when we lock them up?

    • 0 avatar
      April 5

      .04 for every driver sounds like a good idea.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Why don’t we just treat everyone like a convicted criminal? Oh, never mind. That’s what you want to do already.

        • 0 avatar
          April 5

          I was taught driving is a privilege and not a right.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            I think this is the biggest fallacy that is portrayed on the public. The government does not give out “privileges” . Everything is a right until it violates the right of someone else. Driving does not violate the right of someone else. Therefore it is a right, period. Now driving drunk can violate the right of someone else and that’s why it is illegal. Now that limit is what is up for debate, but the fact that you have the right to drive if you meet the minimum requirements set by your state is not.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            While the government certainly benefits from this, I don’t think they’re the ultimate cause. Some people see themselves as citizens; some as subjects…

          • 0 avatar
            TW4

            When the economy falls apart b/c your fellow citizens have lost driving privileges and law enforcement bills are 20% of GDP, you’ll change your tune. Nothing fixes naivety like poverty.

          • 0 avatar

            You were taught wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            CamryStang

            Its viewed by the legal system (and state dmvs) as a privilege.
            Wanting driving to be viewed as a right doesn’t make it seen that way

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            A right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens or all human beings.

            A privilege is conditional and granted. Driving is a granted privilege.

            Rights can conflict with granted privileges. “State implied-consent laws for example, require that a motorist consent to chemical testing if requested by a police officer,
            thus conflicting with the driver’s right against self-incrimination.”
            http://www.ehow.com/facts_5798127_difference-between-right-privilege.html#ixzz2TS6kfU1B

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Buncha commies here, who think the government dispenses privileges. You have a right of freedom of movement, using public thoroughfares set aside for that purpose. The only restriction the government can place on that right is for public safety.

            Pedestrians, bicycles and horses are prohibited from high speed highways? Public safety. Requiring a license certifying that the bearer knows how to operate a motor vehicle and knows the rules of the road? public safety.

            The government exists to protect our individual rights (see the Declaration of Independence), not to serve as a benevolent ruler that dispenses privileges. Some of you know we’re citizens, not subjects, but others were apparently taught to be sheep.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Driving was a right (IMO still is) but stopped being an actual excersisable right when we were forced to contract into licensing and registering our cars in order to have mordern freedom of movement. These contracts attempt to nullify the right.

            I say we take it back.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      I don’t have any opinion on .04 specifically, but I don’t have a problem in principle with graduated thresholds — momentum increasing with the square of mass, and all that.

      When I fly, not only is my limit also .04, but there’s also an additional eight-hour “bottle to throttle” rule I have to follow. For similar reasons, that doesn’t bother me one bit.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    This is incredibly asinine. It’s funny how they doll it up to make it look like it’s about public safety, when really it’s about making money.

    A BAC of 0.05% is already grounds for a DWAI if the cop has a stick up his ass that day, now they want to destroy a good 1 year chunk of your life if you have 1 beer in your system? What if I’m at a barbecue or a buddy’s place and sip on a Coors Light and run out to get more ice. Am I gonna get a DWAI for having a BAC of like 0.02%? Ridiculous.

  • avatar
    jmo

    The role of the NTSB is to suggest these kinds of measures.

    In airplane crashes for example, they concluded that Little Rock should to install an engineered materials arrestor system at the end of runways to prevent another American Airlines Flight 1420 incident.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineered_materials_arrestor_system

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Airlines_Flight_1420

    Then it’s up to the FAA and the airport authorities to weigh the pros and cons of installing the system and make a decision.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Those EMAS installations are neat… it’s one of those “Duh!” common-sense, and inexpensive, safety measures that you wonder why they weren’t installed already.

      • 0 avatar

        Not all NTSB recommendations are as good as EMAS. The witch that runs NTSB nowadays recommended banning cellphones in cars period, even with hands-free equipment. Same goes for other moronic proposals like 0.05.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “The witch that runs NTSB nowadays recommended banning cellphones in cars period, even with hands-free equipment. Same goes for other moronic proposals like 0.05.”

          Her job isn’t to weigh the pros and the cons – only the pros. The cell phone and alcaholic beverage industry are more than capable of listing all the cons.

          • 0 avatar
            Highway27

            Yeah, I mentioned to some other friends that it’s the National Transportation Safety Board, not the National Measured Analysis and Acceptable Risk Calculation Board. Their entire purview is “Is this a danger? Then get rid of it.”

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Drink vodka exclusively. I know someone that is a high functioning alcoholic. He’s been ticketed for speeding without arousing suspicion of DUI while having a BAC that would have most people hugging their toilets.

    • 0 avatar
      CamryStang

      Is vodka actually less obviously detectable or is the guy the champ of holding his liquor?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Vodka is far less apparent than most alcoholic beverages. It’s essentially odorless, particularly compared to beer, whiskey, gin, tequila, or rum. Red wine is obvious on teeth.

        I had to take a first time driving offender class about 25 years ago. The cop teaching the class bragged about nabbing a guy for a DUI who had a burned out tail light bulb. He smelled of booze, but passed all of the field sobriety tests. It turns out the guy was a long time alcoholic with an incredible tolerance. He drove fine. He was as coordinated as an athlete, but his BAC was over the legal limit, which may well have been .12 at the time. The cop couldn’t come up with any reason other than the smell of beer to give him a breathalyzer. Even as a teenager, hearing this story made me want to ask the cop what he thought he was accomplishing. He told us the guy was driving fine and could pass any field sobriety test. There are plenty of people that can’t do either of those things sober.

        The government is so obsessed with drinking and driving that they’re useless in the face of other forms of negligence. It seems like a week doesn’t go by here when there isn’t a serious accident on the news where they don’t charge whoever is at fault because they were tested and came up sober. I guess that makes the people they hit whole again.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          The obsession with drinking and driving is because it is theoretically preventable. I say theoretically because most alcoholics don’t give a shit what the BAC limit is or what the penalty is if they are caught.

          What forms of negligence is the government neglecting? Surely you’ve noticed the distracted driving hysteria?

          With driving drunk or distracted already covered, I think the only form of driving negligence left is driving while incompetent. Some people are just horrible drivers with no hope of improvement. This is not preventable, even with stricter training and licensing requirements. Even the horrible drivers can pass stricter requirements with enough persistence. Once they are legally on the road, there is nothing you can do.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            What are they neglecting? Whatever is causing the vast majority of crashes and fatalities. It isn’t drunk driving, and it isn’t distracted driving. Most fatal accidents are those between heavy trucks and cars. Has the NHTSA done anything about keeping cars out from under the wheels of trailers? They were talking about the problem even in the late ’70s, but they went on MADD’s jihad instead. Distracted driving? Even they claim an embarrassingly small percentage of casualties.

            If you sincerely worry about car accidents, worry about the number of medicated drivers on the roads. Do you wonder how people could have been soft-headed enough to re-elect Obama? Many of them are on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, anti-psychotics, or all of the above. A guy drove down my street in an Expedition about a year ago, hitting at least 9 cars, many of them while trying to turn into driveways that weren’t his. He finally had to be stopped by witnesses, who pulled him from his SUV while he tried to disentangle it from the last car he hit. I figured he was drunk and going to jail. Nope. He was on meds, and the police took him to the hospital. Then he was back at home, still driving with whatever health problem can turn him into a menace. Maybe actually being a proven danger to others should carry a higher penalty than going through a road block on the way home from having three beers with your coworkers.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Again, the focus on DUI is because it is theoretically easily preventable. Collisions between heavy trucks and light passenger vehicles are not easily preventable.

            As for the medicated drivers, it looks like CA tweaked its DUI laws to cover them as well (starting January 1, 2014).
            http://www .dmv. ca .gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23152.htm

            23152(e) contains the language change that reads like it is intended to make the law flexible enough to reach medicated drivers.

            Besides, the fact that the guy in your story wasn’t punished doesn’t mean much. It isn’t much different than the drunk on his 12th DUI that is somehow still behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Agreed on all points.

    Lowering the BAC limit will mostly create more non-violent criminals and further clog the justice system while lining its collective pockets with legal costs.

    The increased checkpoints which catch people at 0.05% will also catch people at 0.12%, and so 0.05% will be declared a success. I suspect Australia enjoys a lower DUI fatality rate because of the FEAR of being caught at 0.05%, but not due to the actual improved safety of a lower limit. Some might say this is OK, just as some think violation of Bostonians’ 4th Amendment rights was OK in order to catch the Marathon Bombers.

    And I know we’ve discussed this before, but it’s hard to reconcile liberalization of Mary Jane laws around the country while DUI laws are tightening.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Agreed on your point about the fear factor. At 0.08% people get ideas about what they can get away with while still being under the limit. At 0.05%, people will think twice about anything more than one drink at dinner.

      If it discourages a few more people from having too many, it might be worth it. Unfortunately, the people really causing problems doesn’t care what the limit is, or even if they have a license. Only a couple days before the NTSB made this recommendation, there was a story in MA about a guy getting stopped for a 12th DUI. He had already lost his license back on his 10th (no info on what happened for the 11th). Penalties need to be much more severe for this kind of douchebaggery. No one should have the opportunity to pile up that many DUI arrests. First offense penalties should be a strong deterrent, but not the end of the world. Subsequent arrests should really hurt.

      As for clogging the courts with people actually stopped in the range between .005 and 0.08, I hope Police can still use their judgement at traffic stops. In CA they can already declare you impaired even if you are under 0.08%. I hope the reverse is true and 0.05% won’t mean an automatic arrest.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        You make great sense. Those who cause the most issues are not going to care about what the limit is. But there is plenty of money t be made at that lower limit which is what this is really about. If we wanted to stop those kind of DWI’s we would have far stiffer penalties in place for chronic offenders.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The idea that cops at alcohol check points will be using judgement to let unimpaired .05s go is pure fantasy. They’re there to generate numbers, and they’re not going to let a fish off the hook. Even if they had any ethics, how could they? What if they let someone go who is near the legal limit and that person is in an accident or is stopped by another cop with a quota to meet?

  • avatar
    mikey

    In Ontario your first .05 will buy you an automatic 24 suspension. Your insurance company gets a notice,and you can add 10 percent to your premiums. Second offence is a weeks suspension. I own three cars 10 percent increase is 320 dollars.

    In Ontario .08 is real bad news. Your license is suspended on the spot for three months. Your walking for another year after that. You also get your very own breathalizer. You pay to have it installed, and monitored.

    More than 2 beers? I call a cab. I’m a credit card guy,but I always have cab fare tucked away in my wallet. At the most, maybe 150.00 a year in cabs. Peanuts, compared to blowing over.

    Buy the time its all over your looking at 35K plus.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    MADD has already weighed in. While they are not opposed, it’s nowhere near at the top of their list of things they’d like to see done and they won’t be throwing their weight behind it. (As in, they don’t want to blow political capital supporting what is almost certainly a doomed measure.)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Tip o’ the hat for a balanced article on a touchy subject. Seems to me the question is not whether some laboratory studies shows “impairment” at some very low level of alcohol ingestion. Dollars to donuts, that study assumes non-alcohol drinkers’ performance is a constant, which it isn’t. Some days, you’re a little tired, some days you’re pissed off at your boss, some days you’re just not focused and so you’re not as sharp as on your best days. So, I think it would take a bigger study than I bet has been done to conclusively establish that a super-small consumption of alcohol produces performance by that particular test subject that is worse than his/her performance at any time of the day or under any other set of reasonable, non-chemically altered circumstances.

    You see where I’m going.

    Rather, the proposed rule should be justified — if it can — by showing a statistically significant number of traffic accidents involved drivers whose BAC was between the current permissible level and the proposed level.

    I am impressed by seeing a reduction in the number of DUI-related fatalities in Australia following the lowering of the permissible BAC. But even there, the basic principle of “correlation does not equal causation” applies. In the US, at least, traffic fatalities of all types are declining, presumably because of more crash-worthy vehicles and better road design (guard rails that don’t throw the vehicle back into traffic or don’t impale the vehicle, for example). So, I’d want a study that controls for these overall trends (assuming they’re happening in Oz as in the U.S.).

    Otherwise, these proposed regulations are little more than revenue-enhancers and “bargining chits” to be used by prosecutors and police officers making a traffic stop.

    Sadly, today’s discussion about regulation of all sorts seems to lose the link between the problem and the proposed cure (regulation). The President beats the drum for registration of guns purchased between private individuals after a bunch of elementary school kids are shot by a psycho (who had access to legal guns through his mother) when none of the mass shootings that have generated so much publicity would have been stopped by that or any other kind of regulation other than the legally and practically impossible total ban. The “climate change” folks propose all kinds of draconian regulations with huge social and economic costs, yet admit that implementing these changes would have, at best, a minor effect on the problem, if it exists.

    There is a whole industry of know-it-alls who are just itching to tell people how to live their lives, enlisting the force of government behind their prescriptions. I give you Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on big sodas as one of the more risible examples.

    I have little hope that anyone will produce — or even demand — a study that shows that people with BACs between the current permissible level and the proposed lower level are involved in any more accidents than other people who were determined to be alcohol-free.

    • 0 avatar
      majo8

      Car and Driver did a study just as you proposed when the limit was reduced from .10 to .08. IIRC, they compared the amount of accidents in comparison to the driver’s BAC. Again, IIRC, they found that the amount of accidents caused by drivers with a .08 to .10 BAC to be a very low percentage of total accidents, in the 1%-2% range.

      The real danger is the drivers at .16 or above….

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …….There is a whole industry of know-it-alls who are just itching to tell people how to live their lives, enlisting the force of government behind their prescriptions. I give you Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on big sodas as one of the more risible examples…..

      I don’t see that, or climate change, as a good example, though the gun example jumped into my head when I first read the OP. Mayor Bloomberg chose to focus on large sodas because studies have shown a strong link between calorie dense sugary drinks and obesity, especially with lower income kids. While I feel the Mayor overstepped his boundary and I don’t support City Hall dictating the size of drinks, I understand why he focused on soda and not hamburgers. Adults should be able to make any lifestyle choice they want, provided that adult is fine with paying all direct and indirect costs associated with their choices and don’t dump them on others.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    As an administrator (obviously not in the area discussed in this article) I am disgusted with the way they tie everything to money.

    “Oh you don’t want to do that?… Well kiss x funding goodbye.”

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      It’s a good argument for shrinking or abolishing the federal gas tax and allowing the states to collect it themselves, rather than attaching all these conditions to receiving “your” money back again.

      Similar to how a national sales tax, flat income tax, or (blecch) value-added tax would have minimized the ability of the IRS to engage in scandal.

  • avatar
    carlos.negros

    If you don’t want the police watching you, taking your blood, or smelling your breath, live someplace where you can rely on public transportation. New York is America’s biggest city, and there are plenty of police, who are paid to make people feel safe enough to to go a bar, have a few drinks, and walk home without getting mugged. New York has a freedom about it that few other places have in the U.S. The freedom to go to a bar with your buddies, drink a pitcher or two, throw some darts, listen to music, and walk or take the subway home without getting arrested for having a social life. Romney may have lost but it appears that the Mormons have won anyway.

    Europe may have an 0.05% limit. But how much does that really impact folks that live in Paris, London, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam? Almost nothing because almost no one there needs to drive in order to go to a bar or restaurant.

    It used to be that cars equaled freedom. Now cars equal surveillance, revenue collection, courts, questions, lack of privacy. – Yuck. I personally don’t consume more than a couple of drinks when I go out for dinner. But I respect the right and the freedom of those who can handle a bit more.

    The NTSB claims that the new lower limits will save 800 lives per year. In a country of 325 million. How many people would be saved if they fixed dangerous railroad crossings? What about inspecting trucks better so that when driving down the highway people don’t get hit with a tire tread with wires sticking out? Or, putting seat belts in all school buses? Or, requiring mandatory tire inspections for everyone? Or, requiring that all existing trucks, SUVs, and Minivans be retrofitted with backup cameras? The point is that there are always things that can be done to reduce accidents. Losing the freedom to gather and share a drink with other people is not at the top of my list for something to give up. I guess it is New York for me.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      Really, what you’re saying is that everyone should be rich enough to live in Manhattan (or Williamsburg or Park Slope), so that they can live as you describe, without having to endure the slings and arrows of the hoi polloi. Hardly an empowering attitude.

      • 0 avatar
        LeafMeAlone

        Seems like young people have already voted with their feet. Most of the places they move to, NYC, Portland, Seattle, Boston, D.C., and the Bay Area, have decent public transportation or are walk-able. Oklahoma City, and Wichita are not primary destinations.

        I agree with Carlos. Living somewhere with access to public transportation means more freedom. But that only matters if freedom matters to you.

        • 0 avatar
          zerofoo

          “Freedom” requires dependence on a public transportation system?

          Your definition of freedom and my definition differ significantly.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          The most popular cities for college graduates are located in the west and south, and are cities laid out largely around the automobile:

          http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/10/smart-cities-new-orleans-austin-contributors-joel-kotkin.html

          The idea that young people moving to New York City or Portland is a myth. They are more likely to move some place like Oklahoma City than New York City.

          Also note this:

          “And wherever these college graduates migrate, they are at least as likely to settle outside the urban core. Another overlooked fact: Most places with the highest percentages of college-educated people are in suburbs.”

          The deaths of the suburbs and the automobile have been greatly exaggerated.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            Great post Geeber.

            Living in the City isn’t some glorious solution.

            Anyway, If you want to drink – make friends with a DD. The thing is its pretty clear that driving while drinking any amount makes you a worse driver. Why do we have to put up with that on the road?

            One to two drinks of alcohol impair mental and physical abilities; mental processes such as restraint, awareness, concentration and judgment are affected, reaction time slowed, and an inability to perform complicated tasks.
            {“The Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs,” Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Irvine, CA, 1991}

            Any blood alcohol level, even a BAC of 0.02%, the result of just one drink, increases the risk of a crash. Alcohol impairs nearly every aspect of the brain’s ability to process information, as well as the eye’s ability to focus and react to light.
            {University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, Jan. 1998}

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            “The deaths of the suburbs and the automobile have been greatly exaggerated.”

            People spending huge sums of money on the so called “town centers” won’t have any of that nonsense.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      This is a good point. People still want to be with friends and family in a social setting and sometimes that involves drinking. I think that there are several reasons some downtowns are starting to come back (even ones like Detroit) but one is because young people want to go to bars and clubs and then get home without a DUI and +$10k in costs.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      Are there public intoxication laws in NY? I’ve heard of people getting arrested for public intoxication in chicago, so public transport doesn’t automatically dismiss all chances of getting a ticket for being drunk.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      carlos.negros
      ” New York has a freedom about it that few other places have in the U.S.”

      Only provided you live in a high income neighborhood. As a (mostly) law abiding citizen of this city who has had many apartments in the pioneer zones I can personally attest to the utter lack of freedom found here. “Empty your pockets,” “Ask one more question and I’ll break your f___ing arm.” Actual quotes delivered to me of all people, and I DO NOT look like a criminal. That last one sent me into an actual fit of rage where I threatened back, his partner had to back him off, and probably only because I look like I have a lawyer.

      “Now cars equal surveillance, revenue collection, courts, questions, lack of privacy. – Yuck.”

      Once again, that describes NYC more than it does the national car ownership experience. Having a car in NY is actually a great way to avoid all of the above…the only drawback is our kangaroo court system (TVB).

      This is coming from a person with an appreciation for both personal liberty as well as law enforcement needs. I’m not a screaming idealist by any means.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    You should be able to take your driver’s test while intoxicated. If you pass, then you can drive legally at whatever BAL you were when you passed the test.

    I’m a better driver after four or five drinks than my wife is sober. Flame away if you will.

    • 0 avatar
      FrumpyBF

      I wouldn’t bet against your comment, but that would not take into account the altered emotional state of a drunk person. It isn’t just coordination and reaction time.

    • 0 avatar
      MK

      I’ll drink to that!

    • 0 avatar
      Robbie

      After four drinks, you will not be able to react properly in any emergency situation. Your clumsy driving but sober wife would be able to brake for the suddenly crossing pedestrian; you would not. Your statement is highly troubling, as you do not seem to be able to realize this.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        You have to weigh the probability of encountering an emergency situation vs. a worse driver endangering your life in a much more probable normal situation due to poor driving. Who would you rather give you a lift, me on four beers, or a 12 year old kid, for example?

        • 0 avatar
          Hoser

          Or anybody on a cell phone. Holy crap. I went to a conference with a co-worker recently and was trying to decide who wanted to drive home. I said I could, but my co-worker ended up at the wheel. If I knew she was going to browse facebook and post stuff the whole ride home, I would have insisted on driving. I’ll trust anyone with 4 drinks in them more than I’ll trust somebody stone cold sober trying to operate a cell phone while driving. 60% of stupid stuff I see on the road has a driver with a phone on their ear or head in their lap.

    • 0 avatar
      Glen.H

      Um, maybe you shouldn’t be driving after you have been drinking…and maybe your wife shouldn’t be driving at all if she drives worse than someone with four or five drinks under his belt? Just a suggestion.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “You should be able to take your driver’s test while intoxicated. If you pass, then you can drive legally at whatever BAL you were when you passed the test.”

      I’d be up for the challenge.

      This reminds me of the Murilee’s proposal for the DUI Telepresence Crown Victoria Figure Eight Racing series where each driver must pass a brethalyzer by being OVER the limit in order to race.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    In many states, drunk driving is a business for multitudes of lawyers, counselors, and breath equipment installers. It’s rare for drunks with multiple convictions to see the inside of a jail cell for more than a night – unless they hurt someone.

    A constant in upstate NY are those who simply drive with a suspended / revoked license. I’ll take the NTSB / MADD / IIHS seriously when they propose 60 day jail sentences for convicted drunks who subsequently drive without a license. But that’s not gonna happen – because it would cost money.

    And the DWI industry is mostly about money.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      They need to go after the enablers. Drunks who have already had their license suspended or revoked do not care what the law says. I don’t think a 60-day sentence will change that.

      How often are these drunks still on the road because they borrowed someone’s car? Is it too much to insist that you don’t knowingly let a chronic alcoholic with no license borrow your car?

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        In my state, if someone borrows my car and gets caught driving 100+ mph, my property gets impounded. If I know the guy’s a chronic hooner, that’s one thing, but if not…?

        I agree that true enablers should be punished, but as eager as cops and prosecutors are nowadays to seize property, it’s tough to write a law that punishes enablers while protecting the rights of ordinary citizens.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          It doesn’t have to go as far as seizing property. Not to add another way for the government to collect revenue, but a modest civil penalty would probably do the trick. It doesn’t take much to get law abiding citizens inline.

          It is tricky though, so this would have to be limited in scope. I think it would have to hinge around whether the individual that wants to drive has a current license. If they can’t produce a current license, no car. Any kind of deception on the part of the driver (fake license) should get the “enabler” off the hook.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Here in Canada, the provinces generally enforce lower limits (.05 to .08%) than the Feds criminal charge level (.08%). Here’s the RCMP report for my municipality last month in Nova Scotia. Note that a majority charged were over the federal limit.

    “Throughout April, police charged 53 people – 36 men and 17 women, ranging in age from 19 to 65 – with impaired driving by alcohol. Of these incidents, 27 were identified by police during their patrols, 13 were identified after a collision had occurred and 13, or 24%, were called-in by concerned citizens. Officers also issued 11 suspensions (7 days) for having a blood alcohol level between 50-80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (mg%).

    The breath samples obtained from the drivers ranged from 90-330 mg%. Of the 53 cases, 15 involved drivers impaired by alcohol with readings that were more than twice the legal limit of 80 mg%, four had readings that were more than three times the legal limit and one had readings that were more than four times the legal limit. Four drivers refused to provide samples of their breath and were also charged with refusal. Two cases involved drug impairment.”

    The US might want to go the way we do. 7 day suspension for .05 to .08% rather than lowering criminal charge levels to .05%. A 7 day suspension and $124 fine tends to straighten up the occasional drinker. The alcoholics don’t give a damn.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    Was Larry Mahoney even *charged* with murder? Don’t blame the jury for “electing to convict him of manslaughter” if you don’t know the difference between the two yourself. Killing someone in a DUI wreck is manslaughter, not murder.

    As long as we’re on that unpleasant subject, we should also note that while a drunk driver caused the collision, poor design — inadequate structural protection around the bus fuel tank that ruptured Pinto-style, and insufficient emergency exits — caused the death toll. The investigation revealed that the impact itself didn’t cause any serious injuries.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Good point. Actually, the typical charge for a fatality caused by a drunk driver is “negligent homicide” which is the least culpable charge, below manslaughter. To be convicted of manslaughter, you have to be found to have acted with “reckeless disregard” of the consequences of your actions. I suspect, in that case, the prosecution convinced the jury that the driver’s consumption of so many drinks (needed to achieve that BAC) prior to his driving the bus, satisfied the “reckless disregard” element of the offense. Serving 10 years is a pretty heavy hit, not that the guy didn’t deserve it.

      Once again, this confirms my anecdotal theory (based only on a couple of years as a police beat newspaper reporter in Houston) that the vast majority of fatal accidents involving alcohol are caused by alcoholics — people who have BAC’s so high that a non-alcoholic with that level would be unconscious, much less capable of operating a motor vehicle. One of the characteristics of alcoholism is a tremendous tolerance for alcohol. I had a close friend from college who was an alcoholic (thankfully, clean and sober for decades now). He could drink me “under the table” even when I outweighed him by probably 40-50 lbs. and could easily put away an entire pitcher of beer all by myself. The difference between us was that, after I had had that pitcher, I had had enough. He was going for more.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      Don’t assume that the law where you’re at is the same as the law where I’m at. Yes, Mahoney was charged with Murder. 27 counts of it and the death penalty was sought, which was probably overrreach on the part of the prosecution.

      Kentucky law does allow for charging murder for causing a death while DUI. Here is the law. The relevant section is section B:

      KRS 507.020 Murder.

      (1) A person is guilty of murder when:

      (a) With intent to cause the death of another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person; except that in any prosecution a person shall not be guilty under this subsection if he acted under the influence of extreme emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation or excuse, the reasonableness of which is to be determined from the viewpoint of a person in the defendant’s situation under the circumstances as the defendant believed them to be. However, nothing contained in this section shall constitute a defense to a prosecution for or preclude a conviction of manslaughter in the first degree or any other crime; or

      (b) Including, but not limited to, the operation of a motor vehicle under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person and thereby causes the death of another person.

      (2) Murder is a capital offense.

      As for the comment about the bus’s design flaws, that’s a little bit like claiming that the 9/11 hijackers were only tangently responsible for the deaths of approx. 3,000 people. What really killed them was the fact that the planes didn’t hold together when they were flown into buildings or the ground.

  • avatar
    TW4

    “If DUI is as deadly as we all seem to believe it is, then let’s stiffen the jail terms and driver’s licensing penalties for it and concentrate on waging a little shock and awe on first and second offenders.”

    Strengthen the penalties for a victimless crime? Surely, you jest. The US has the highest inmate population in the world by leaps and bounds. It seems that we understand our crime problem, but we have no idea who is causing it. Productive men and women with blood alcohol of .06 risk jail time. Meanwhile, our inner-city gang violence and organized crime continue unabated while the government plays clever cat and mouse games with criminals. Fast and Furious, anyone?

    The government is always trying to find new ways to put people in jail, and as you point out, our criminal justice system is over capacity, dealing with frivolous victimless crimes like speeding tickets, parking tickets, unpaid tolls, red light camera fines, DUI and the like. Mother’s Against Due Diligence can screech and cackle and fly around on their brooms all they want. They aren’t preventing crime. They are merely lynching their fellow citizens to set an example to the real criminals……who don’t listen b/c they don’t care. So the law abiding public is tormented to the delight of MADD and insurance companies everywhere. The consent between the public and law enforcement is eroded, and the police are always thrown under the bus.

    So how about some preventive under-the-bus-throwing. If we put the top MADD officials under a bus, drive over them, and then put it in reverse, I reckon we can save the reputation of a half million cops, who want to serve their communities with dignity.

  • avatar
    Turkina

    Perhaps the NTSB should advocate projects to get people home safely when they’ve had a bit too much to drink. I love hearing stories about the people who create informal ride services to take people home. Maybe figure out how to make being a DD a better option, rather than feeling like you’re being left out of the fun. The point is, I think many of us think lowering the limit is a poor way to help people.

    Zero tolerance has typically had a bad track record, although it sounds like a good idea. Too many people get put through the grinder, while doing little for the severe cases. Been fighting a cold and brought some Day-Quil to high school because that’s what your mom told you to do? That’s a suspension. Now you’ve fallen behind…

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think you are on to something with making being a DD a better option. The big problem there is the peer pressure. How often does a group of drinkers encourage their DD to “just have one more, you’ll be fine.”

      Rather than endless legislation, the government could try a marketing campaign to make binge drinking and drunk driving socially unacceptable. It’s an uphill battle, though they did manage to marginalize smoking.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      I know when I went to a bulls game a few years ago, there was free soda if you were declared a DD by a group of people in front of the customer service window.

      Hey, I’m not one to turn down free soda and get my fellow amigos home safely as well.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “Maybe figure out how to make being a DD a better option”
      Great idea. I went straight to George Carlin of course, “the rules of the road” would be a great place to start.
      See also, “dogging.”

      In one fell swoop every 16 – 34 year old male would adjust their entire weekend social calendar to include sober driving on Friday and Saturday nights. In conclusion we need the mothers of MADD to convince their daughters to, “do the right thing.”

  • avatar
    el scotto

    It’s real simple for me: Get a DUI: lose my job. No appeal, no second chance, no bullshit. I appreciate the various opinions and viewpoints on here about the whole DUI industry. Again; Get a DUI: lose my job. If I’m drinking at work function, I nurse a single malt. If I’m out and about, I take a cab or don’t drink on the 1st few dates. I consider a cab part of my entertainment expense. Then again, my cabbies are polite and (gasp) drive like normal human beings and are grateful for their tip.

  • avatar
    wsimon

    That money that was spent on advertising a move of the BAC from pretty much negligible to negligible? Yeah, we don’t get that back.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Pretending that three beers over dinner are the same thing as actually being drunk works both directions. Actual drunks get to go through a system set up to smoothly and efficiently extract revenue from a flood of social drinkers.

    This is why nothing serious is done about drunk driving – because any harsh penalty you can name would also fall on the shoulders of hundreds of thousands of middle class people with jobs and families. Our (wholly unjustified IMO) humanity in refusing to ruin a man’s life for a rolling stop coming home from dinner is the best possible cover for the relative handful of serious drunks that eventually kill somebody.

    In the face of this, the prohibitionists now want to pretend that two beers is being drunk.

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    This is just like shortening the yellow lights once they put up a red light camera to ensure they generate more revenue. It has very little to do with safety, but they are trying to ensure they get an ever-larger number of people in their net. I don’t think anyone will be able to prevent this move, and then in a few years they’ll lower it yet again.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    What’s the big deal? The fact of the matter is it really doesn’t matter how low the BAC might be. A cop will gladly ruin anyone’s life just to advance their own career even if there’s no evidence of alcohol in the blood of the stopped driver at all:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/us/lawsuit-accuses-fired-utah-trooper-of-falsifying-dui-arrests.html

    The only mistake this one made was she made so many arrests, a percentage of those hundreds she falsely charged with DUI actually had the money to hire real lawyers to take her to court, where a judge (after many years) actually had the cajones to question her testimony (of course, she wasn’t charged with perjury, though).

    Otherwise, she’d still be out ‘patrolling’ the highways of Utah with the full support of her superiors, racking up lots of DUI arrests and ‘Trooper of the Year’ awards.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Australlia has had .05 limit for years,about 40 years in fact. We have trandom patrols testing anywhere and anytime.
    None of this silly business of sniffing breath or walking straight lines, if you blow .05 or more you are arrested and forced to under go a blood test . then you either lose your license or are fined really heavily. This doesn’t stop alcholics from driving but it did lower the road toll drastically.
    If you are a probationary/learner driver the limit is Zero. If you are bus driver or heavy truck driver your limit is zero. You can also get pulled over and tested for marijuana and meth amphetimine useage. Again, getting drugged up losers off the road is more important than anyones personal feelings of authoritarian abuse.
    Even still ,people get killed here because some drunk figured they drive with an addled brain better than anyone else …until the point of impact.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Ron B. I don’t 100 percent agree you. Our laws, and penalties in Canada are similar to yours. The big drinkers,still drink, and drive.

      In my view, two or three beers does not make me a danger to myself,or anybody else on the road. The law,however, does not share my view. Being the law abiding type,I suck it up and pay for a cab.

      I just accept it. It doesn’t mean I got to like it.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      And all this time I thought it was New Zealand that was full of sheep. Guess you guys have never heard of Ben Franklin, huh?

    • 0 avatar
      grinchsmate

      Im Australian too.

      I think random breath tests are ok but if you blow over the limit you should go through a sobriety test. The offense shouldn’t be Drink Driving it should be Drunk Driving. Some people don’t get drunk till they are well over the limit and shouldn’t have to accommodate for cadburys and midgets.

      The amphetamine and cannabis testing is just wrong. Once again they are arresting you for having a substance in your body not for being intoxicated. It will be interesting to see if this changes now NSW has legislated for the medicinal use of cannabis.

  • avatar
    AH-1WSuperCobra

    I remember a few years back a woman from a nearby town in Western NY finally got 5 years in jail for her 11TH DUI. So I agree with people when they say there needs to be stronger punishment for repeat offenders.

    Back when I was a young Marine I used to drive from my base in NC back home to Western NY on 96’s which was right around 12 hours. One day I didn’t get on the road until about 1500ish and when I had reached southern Pennsylvania I was trying my best not to fall asleep. Looking back I was just as dangerous on the road as any drunk.

    If people are really serious about wanting to save lives on the road then there should be exponentially higher punishments for every DUI. It shouldn’t take 11 to finally go to jail. Currently it just feels too much like a racket that is designed to squeeze money out of a one time bad decision because those people mostly likely will pay whatever because they have the most to lose. While giving up on multiple offenders because most of the ones I’ve ever seen weren’t upstanding citizens to begin with and have nothing to lose.

  • avatar

    Mr. Hester, great article. You said “A betting man would figure that the limit will be 0.05% before the decade is over and buy stock in O’Douls.” I would go further: I bet self-driving cars will be legal in all 50 states before a DUI is set at .05 in all 50 states. If I am right, I am guessing most people will either drive new cars with self-driving tech, or retrofit existing cars with the tech, and DUIs will bottom out, i.e. only people with no self-driving tech will get DUIs. Further, I would guess that the current push to lower DUIs to .05 is an acknowledgment that the court system/attorneys/jails/police/etc who currently benefit from DUI ticketing will have a significant cut in income once DUIs are basically obsolete. If they stand to lose so much future income, why not make hay while the sun is shining (i.e. while most people still don’t have self-driving cars)?

  • avatar
    cargogh

    You hit the nail on the head when you suggest the real deterrent to stopping the maiming and killing of others is stiffening the penalty for third and more offenders. There is always going to be the kid who gets behind the wheel the very first time he/she drinks. Little can be done about that.

    But as an alcoholic with nearly a decade of sobriety I’ve gotten to know scores of people with multiple DUIs.
    I was lucky not to have more arrests, and even more blessed not to have hit anyone. I got one DUI at 0.17 thirty years ago this month.

    It has been shocking to meet so many people with 4-10 driving arrests that never faced any proportional consequences, or got sober, until they were convicted of manslaughter or hit someone with a better lawyer.
    It is like these multi-offenders are shooting guns into a crowd. If they don’t hit anyone, then they pay their attorney handsomely to reload their gun to try again. The system is ridiculous that people can continue to buy the privilege of driving drunk after the third one.
    If an alcohol related traffic fatality isn’t with a very young driver, it seems fairly common to note that culprit has had a long history of DUIs.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Personally think that the .08 level was Bill Clinton’s stupidest idea. I don’t think many people realize how few drinks will result in a .008 BAC. Years ago was arrested for DUI, IIRC my BAC was .00814 . I’m a 135 lb. lightweight , but I had only had 2 1/2 drinks . That being said , I went to numerous court ordered meetings and heard various people in said meetings telling their stories . Out of maybe 100 people only one guy had a .09 , and his story was after a long night of drinking he woke up the next morning , went to work and on the way another driver rear-ended him and was injured and as is standard practice here both drivers were tested . One young lady initially claimed she was .08 and at a subsequent meeting broke down in tears and admitted it was twice as high a BAC as that . Most people though it was .15 or more BAC and personally I wouldn’t drive after drinking that much . Already here in Houston it is difficult to get enough jurors for a DUI trial jury pool because as years have passed many people have heard similar stories and .05 levels probably won’t help that much . As far as the comment about the theoretical 120 lb. woman I was astonished at how few women I encountered at those meetings – maybe one woman for every 25 males . While women may drink and drive somewhat less than men , the disparity in the gender makeup of alcoholism is nowhere close to that – think the local cops are much more likely to give a woman a pass .

  • avatar
    AJ

    Sounds like some abuse to me, either of the driver or where they had just been.

    There was a new brew pub that opened in my town a few years ago and the local LEOs decided to pull over customers as they were leaving. Turns out the LEOs just wanted a food discount, and then they’d leave the customers alone. The pub’s owner certainly gave them a discount…

  • avatar

    Isn’t every member of the EU at 0.05 except the UK? All of eastern Europe is 0.05 as well.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I agree with Ihatetrees. We need to do a better job on those who simply drive on their revoked licenses. In my jurisdiction its pretty easy to get a driving on a revoked plead down to a “no driver’s license” max fine $150.

    The interlocks work great. safe, legal mobility right away. My jurisdiction allows them right away, no walking around required. So there’s really no excuse. The drunks hate them. They really have a sense of entitlement about being able to drive unimpeded. But aside from the roadway benefits which are revolutionary, there are a lot of side-benefits. You have to finish your six pack by 10:00 p.m. to start your car in the morning. That doesn’t sound like much of a hurdle, but its the difference between steady employment and unemployment for many, survival for others, and the semblance of a home life for wives and children. It saves thousands of lives, mostly the lives of the drivers. I don’t mean to be facetious, but there is another side-benefit; The interlocked driver is out of the gene pool for as long as he has one of those in his car. No small matter, that.

    None of this happens unless society is willing to lower the boom on the the guys who drive on revoked licenses

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thank you for this thread ! .

    I have lost several friends to drunk drivers over the years and I know quite a few ” functional alcoholics ” these are people who appear O.K. even when their BA level is off the charts .

    I was almost always the D.D. through the 1970’s & 1980’s .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    George B

    I suspect many people would be glad to get a ride home if only they could avoid having their car towed. The probability of getting pulled over by the police is extremely low while the probability of having your car towed if you leave it overnight in the wrong place is very high. Changing the BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05 doesn’t really change the economic incentives much considering the low probability of being caught. It would be more productive to solve the problem of where to put the impaired person’s car and how to get the car reunited with the driver.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      It’d also help to change the spirit of DUI laws. Some guy idling his car in a parking lot to keep warm before he stays the night there can get screwed just as badly as the guy who actually tried to drive home. Again, how are we meant to put this down to anything except revenue?

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Been several years at 0.05 in Australia. Has worked very well.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    lost two friends and my first partner to drunk driving and I am not in favor of lowering the limit. like most on this post have agreed the repercussions need to be adressed. for example in the state of ri you can recieve as low as $10,000 fine and a 3 month suspension of your license which is absolutely asinine…my ex (another factor in breaking up) would brag about his dui in Florida on how he only spent a night and jail and got to keep his license while saying he didn’t harm anyone because he was in a drive thru at taco bell when he backed into a pickup truck because he had passed out from being completely sh#t faced so why should he care…I get disgusted thinking about it

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The person that passed out in the middle of day and crossed the centerline of a rural two lane highway killing 3 kids coming the other way( One of which was a family members)was well over twice the legal limit. My experience is it’s the alcoholic repeat defenders that are causing the drunk driving deaths on the roads. You hear about people with 8 DWIs that somehow are still behind the wheel. WTF? Those are the people that worry me not the person that has had 2 or 3 drinks over dinner.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Unfortunately, a lot of them simply keep driving even after losing their license. Nothing short of jail will keep them from getting behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    pbxtech

    Thanks Dave, I enjoyed your perspective.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    This is about money, and cash-strapped state governments know it’s hard to say no to cracking down on “Drunk Driving”.

    They’ve done numerous studies, and it’s “hammered” drivers that cause accidents, not the guy that had two beers at Happy Hour.

    Also, some organizations like M.A.D.D. are straight up teetotalers that are no different than the temperance movement in the 1920s that brought about prohibition.

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      If it is, than rather than ruining lives, why not have a tiered system?

      0.05 to, for example, 0.10, wherever studies actually show a notable uptick in crashes = a fine. No loss of license the first time, no anything else, just a fine. Maybe the option to take a re-education course in exchange for the fine being cut in half. We know it’s no more dangerous than, say, texting without watching the road (also a fine! Cha-ching!), unlike…

      Over 0.10, again assuming that’s the point at which danger notably increases, current penalties apply.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    The guy quietly idling in a parking lot to keep warm is indistinguishable from the guy passed out in an idling car at a 0.36%. A closer question is where do you draw the line for the guy who is sleeping in the back but left the keys in the ignition.

    • 0 avatar
      David Hester

      You’ve been doing a lot of trolling in other people’s articles the past couple of days. Get a parking ticket or something recently?

      • 0 avatar
        David Hester

        Just for the record, there was a post in response to Mr. Brewer’s post above that I was responding to and calling out the author for trolling. That post has since been removed so the thread now reads as if I am calling out Mr. Brewer for trolling instead. That is certainly not my intention. Mr. Brewer’s point above is completely legitimate. I just want to make sure there’s no confusion.


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