Why Is the Legal Limit .08 BAC, and Would Changing to .05 BAC Have Any Benefits?

By April 28, 2016Thomas Law Firm

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been recommending for the last few years that we decrease the legal limit for alcohol impairment to .05 BAC, down from .08. Why? Safety, of course. But why .05? Is it really that different from .08?

The reason we have a .08 BAC limit for impairment is because of a national fight championed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the 1980s – if you would like a better summary of that, check out our blog post from December about the subject. So why would we change it, and how would it happen?

.05 or .08? The Science of Impairment

The NTSB says that the risk of a DUI-related crash is cut in half when drivers are at .05 instead of .08, a statistic that many other countries around the world used to set their own legal limits at .05 (Australia, for example, as well as much of Europe and South America).

So, why shouldn’t we lower the legal limit? Ask the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who say that the vast majority of serious DUI accidents occur in drivers who are severely intoxicated, usually above .15. Focusing on repeat offenders and the severely intoxicated would be more in line with the spirit of a .05 law than an actual .05 law. Furthermore, .05 does not take that much alcohol to reach; a .05 law would make it so that a glass of wine with dinner could very well lead to someone who is not impaired being charged with a crime.

Furthermore, we already have a criminal charge for drivers who are caught with a .05 BAC – it’s called DWAI, or driving while ability impaired.

Charges of DUI or DWAI can have serious repercussions. With legal help from a DUI defense attorney, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

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