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Will Georgia consider NTSB's recommendation to lower legal limit?

If you have been reading our Athens, Georgia, DUI defense law blog for a while now, then you may be well aware that the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers in Georgia and throughout the U.S. is 0.08. This means that if you are pulled over by a police officer and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to take field sobriety tests and a breath test.

When agreeing to take a breath test, drivers who are of the legal age to drink may be at risk of being arrested and charged with DUI if they blow a 0.08 or higher. Georgia, and every other state in the U.S., acknowledges that drivers may still be operating their vehicles in a responsible manner after having a small amount of alcohol as long as drivers are below the legal limit of 0.08. However, the National Transportation Safety Board claims that too many drivers who are below the legal limit of 0.08 are still impaired when operating their vehicles.

The NTSB recently suggested that all states consider lowering the legal limit to 0.05. The NTSB claims that lowering the legal limit will help to prevent crashes that are caused by drivers who are allegedly impaired.

Although the NTSB claims that more drunk driving accidents will be prevented in the U.S. if states lower the legal limit to 0.05, statistics show that only a small percent of crashes that occur in the U.S. each year involve drivers who have blood alcohol concentrations of 0.05 to 0.08.

The managing director for the American Beverage Institute claims that in 2011, less than 1 percent of all fatal crashes that occurred in the U.S. involved drivers who had BACs of 0.05 to 0.08. The director said that lowering the legal limit to 0.05 would put some people at risk of being charged with DUI after only having one alcoholic beverage.

On the other hand, the NTSB claims that about 500 to 800 lives could be saved every year by lowering the legal limit. The NTSB also stated that it is recommending that states increase penalties for those who are convicted of DUI in order to help prevent fatal drunk driving accidents. Although the NTSB is making these recommendations, the NTSB does not have any authority to force states to make these changes.

Source: ABC News, "NTSB wants to toughen alcohol limits for drivers," David Kerlay and Matt Hosford, May 14, 2013