Several weeks ago, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all 50 states adopted a new blood-alcohol content (BAC) cutoff of 0.05. This is in comparison to the 0.08 standard that is used now. What the BAC tells, is the concentration level of alcohol in a person’s body. It is used to define intoxication and impairment, and the level at which too much alcohol has been consumed for safe driving. While impairment may vary for individuals of the same BAC, it is still the standard used because it can be measured objectively.
In the United States, all states impose penalties for drivers with a BAC of great than 0.08. In California, the possible penalties are determined by addiNational Transportation Safety Boardtional factors including prior convictions, speed, and if other passengers are in the car. Penalties include criminal charges, fines, jail time, probation, alcohol education school and a suspension of a driver’s license. If states were to adopt this new recommended BAC level, these punishments could potentially occur more frequently as the tolerance for alcohol affected driving is lowered.
Statistics The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), reports that 10,000 people are killed every year in alcohol related crashes. These fatalities account for approximately 31% of highway fatalities. On average, every hour, one person is killed and 20 more injured to do drinking and driving. This translates to more than 173,000 injured, with 27,000 of these suffering incapacitating injuries. In the past 30 years, there have been 440,000 fatalities due to alcohol impaired crashes.
The NTSB believes that lowering the BAC level to 0.05 would save somewhere between 500 to 800 lives annually. Studies have shown that motorists with alcohol concentration levels as low as 0.01 show signs of impaired driving. Even levels of 0.05 are associated with significantly increased risk of fatal crashes as most drivers will have experienced a decline in both cognitive and visual functions. The lesson, touts board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, “if you’re drinking, don’t drive.”
While the NTSB investigates and advocates on safety issues, it does not have the power to impose its recommendations and can only recommend changes to federal and state agencies and legislatures. Whether states will adopt these recommendations has yet to be seen, but if they are adopted, there will be ramifications for those caught. For those in the future who are involved in auto-collisions with alcohol impaired drivers, this new recommendation, in adopted, will be helpful. The lower accepted BAC level will further cement blame and liability on the other party.
Driving is a responsibility that is only safe when all participants observe the rules of the road and take safety precautions to ensure the safety of themselves, and others. This includes, making smart decisions when someone has been drinking. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident where the other driver was drinking, you may be due compensation for injuries and damages. Call our office today for a free consultation. Our Bay Area personal injury attorney is ready to help you receive the compensation you deserve.