One Drink Minimum for Drivers Is Coming To A State Near You


Over the past 10 years, the standard or benchmark for determining whether a motorist is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol has been set at 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC); although, this standard is not applicable to commercial and tractor trailer drivers who are subject to 0.04 BAC. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) promulgated this benchmark.

The NTSB is a U.S. government investigative agency that was formed in 1967. Allegedly, the NTSB is an “independent group” that is primarily responsible for the investigation of transportation accidents including airplanes, boats, trains, pipelines and vehicles, among others. The NTSB is composed of five members that are nominated by the President of the United States (POTUS) and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for five-year terms. No more than three of the five members can be from the same political party. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the NTSB is its safety recommendation(s). The NTSB has advocated more than 13,000 recommendations in its timeline – most of these recommendations have been accepted and adopted – including the previous recommendation of 0.08 BAC for motorists.

States and other governmental entities adopt the recommendations of the NTSB because the NTSB is backed by the purse strings of the federal government. In other words, if any state rejects the new proposed 0.05 BAC benchmark for DUI drivers, then that state risks losing federal highway funding.

On May 14, 2013, the NTSB issued a report and a recommendation to lower the DUI threshold for motorists from 0.08 to 0.05. A culmination of investigation led the NTSB to conclude that alcohol had a many varied effect from person to person. As such, the NTSB tried to determine what BAC level represented the majority of drunk drivers to be widely affected by alcohol. The NTSB concluded “this level appears to be 0.05 g/DL BAC.” To buttress its argument, the NTSB noted that 100 other countries had set their BAC limit at 0.05. This change would lead to significant decrease in car crashes, injuries and deaths from drivers that are impaired by alcohol.

In real life, if Georgia decided to adopt the safety recommendation of the NTSB, then a 180-pound male would meet the .05 BAC after 2-3 drinks over the course of one hour (as opposed to 4 drinks over an hour to reach .08 BAC). Should you wish to determine your BAC based on your weight, specific drink(s) and timeline, then use this online BAC calculator developed by the University of Oklahoma. However, variables besides weight, gender and timeline could and do affect blood alcohol content. Yet, since it took states more than 24 years to decrease the previous level from to 0.08 BAC before this recommendation, I don’t think change will happen any time soon.

Not surprisingly, there are forces, both civic and business, that have taken divergent opinions on the proposed change. On the one hand, we have a restaurant trade association (which represents many drinking establishments), the American Beverage Institute, which fought the new recommendation by saying that the average woman would reach 0.05 BAC after just one drink. I am sure that we will hear more anti-recommendation chatter from the beer industry trade groups. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which remained ever vigilant and help spur states to adopt the 0.08 BAC from 0.12 BAC over the past two decades.

One thing is clear and that is that statistics don’t lie. The NTSB said lowering the rate to 0.05 BAC would save more than 500 to 800 lives per year. Further, NTSB proffered that alcohol-impaired driving causes more than 10,000 deaths per year in the U.S. There are more than 300 million Americans, and a good portion of these citizens are passengers on the roadways of America. Time will tell whether the change will be made and how long it may take.

The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford represent clients throughout Georgia who were injured or lost a loved one in car wrecks caused by a motorist under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or drugs. As such, the Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting drunk driver and car crash cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence or fault of a drunk or negligent driver, then please contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately for a free consultation. Mr. Ford can help clients obtain monetary compensation necessary to pay for past, present and future medical care and provide for a fresh start. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

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