NTSB Wants To Lower Blood Alcohol Limit For Drivers

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 5/15/2013 7:28 pm
How many drinks would it take for a small woman to have a blood-alcohol content of point-05?
How about larger people just drinking beer?
Questions like that swirl around a proposal by the National Highway Safety Administration to drop the legal limit from point-08.
State leaders may have to make that decision eventually or risk losing federal highway funding.

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRMAN, NTSB "There were almost a thousand fatalities in the United States in 2011, involving driver's who had their BAC between point-05 and point-07."

Right now its just in the talking stage, but it could become a federal mandate.
The move to point-08 came in 1998, during the Clinton administration, but there have been nearly 440 thousand deaths due to alcohol-related crashes in the last 30-years.
Now the push for the point-05 figure raises some issues, one of which is: at what level is a person actually impaired?

JOE LEDBETTER, CO-FOUNDER, CHATTANOOGA WHISKEY CO. "The point-08 to point-04 is such a moving target . Really. What I care about is education, and making sure people understand, 'don't drink and drive'..know your limits."

That limit might be one drink for some, several for another person.
Rep. Vince Dean says the state's highways are already safer, but he wouldn't stand in the way of such a law.

REP. VINCE DEAN, (R) EAST RIDGE "We were down 27% last year in alcohol related deaths ..that's still too many..we're still having way too many."

Representative Richard Floyd fights most bills involving liquor..and he's doubtful anything will come of it in Nashville.

REP. RICHARD FLOYD, (R) CHATTANOOGA "We have lost, estimates as high as 11 million dollars in the last 5 years in the state of Tennessee because we can't pass an open-container law...and we can't draw down federal funds."

MARK ROSENKER, FORMER NTSB CHAIRMAN "Studies have shown that if you can bring it down to point-05, you can significantly reduce the number of fatalities, accidents and injuries on our nation's highways."

But, skeptics think there may be more fatalities from people texting behind the wheel, than from a small drop in blood alcohol content.

A blood content of point-05 is already the law in 100 other countries.
The NTSB can't force states to lower their legal limit, but it can try to persuade Congress to support the idea.

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