Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Should the BAC Limit Be?

Recently there has been a push to lower the BAC limit for DUI to 0.05 from its current 0.08.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that it would save 1000 lives per year.  This idea is not without controversy, and Twenty-One Debunked is clearly no stranger to controversy.  So is it a wise idea?

First, let's examine the evidence.  It is clear that most drivers are significantly impaired at a BAC of 0.05-0.08, with at least a fourfold increase in fatal crash risk compared to zero BAC, even though this impairment can be rather subtle.  For young male drivers, this relative risk increases to tenfold.  Most civilized countries (and the state of New York) recognize this fact and have thus set their BAC limits at 0.05, and some have set it even lower still.  And doing so has been shown to save lives, even in car-cultures like Australia who saw more progress in reducing alcohol-related traffic deaths than the USA or Canada.  To reach a BAC of 0.05, it would take about three drinks for a 180-pound man or about two drinks for a 120-pound woman within an hour or two.  So contrary to popular opinion, a 0.05 limit would NOT criminalize having a drink with dinner at a restaurant and subsequently driving home.  Thus, on balance, the benefits of lowering the limit outweigh the costs, and it is most likely a good idea overall.

That being said, Twenty-One Debunked does NOT support making it a criminal offense to drive with a BAC of 0.05-0.08.  Rather, we favor the approach taken by the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, as well as some Australian states.  In these jurisdictions, driving with a BAC of 0.05-0.08 is illegal but is only a traffic infraction, with administrative rather than criminal penalties.  Only above 0.08 would a driver face criminal penalties.  Administrative penalties include immediate short-term license suspension, short-term vehicle impoundment, and fairly modest fines for those who fail or refuse a breathalyzer.  Our proposal already includes these ideas, along with tougher enforcement and graduated penalties based on BAC and number of offenses.  We believe that if all or even some of the ideas in our proposal were implemented, alcohol-related traffic deaths and other problems would decrease dramatically in a fairly short time.

Finally, we should note that MADD founder (and later turncoat) Candy Lightner is against lowering the BAC limit to 0.05, about as strongly as she supports keeping the drinking age 21.  Remember that in 2008 she even insulted our men and women in uniform on national TV just to make a point about why the drinking age should be 21 in her view.  That is truly the height of hubris and hypocrisy, and you don't get much more pharisaical than that.   And ironically even MADD itself, who Lightner has apparently made peace with, isn't too keen on the 0.05 limit either. 

MADD and their ilk have historically claimed that if a particular policy saves even one life, it's worth it.  Funny how they would oppose (or at least not push for) a policy that would likely save at least as many lives as their own (bogus) estimate of lives saved by the 21 drinking age.  That really speaks volumes about what they really are--an anti-youth hate group that really has no place in a civilized society but on the trash heap of history.

1 comment:

  1. For years, I believed and still believe that MADD is an ageist organization. I lump MADD with organizations which promote intolerance, including homophobic organizations. The BAC limit should be lowered to 0.05 but if that limit is lowered, then a BAC reading of 0.05 to 0.07 should be treated as a traffic infraction. Alberta and British Columbia have a good system of punishment when it comes to drunk driving. If other states lower their BAC limit to 0.05, then the system of punishment in those provinces should copied in the United States. Drunk driving will decrease significantly if punishments are done correctly.