In 2011, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles reported nearly 8,500 alcohol-related crashes throughout the state. Of those, 330 were fatal, resulting in a total of 362 deaths.
Our New York City injury lawyers are hopeful that numbers like this could soon drop significantly, if federal safety advocates are successful in pushing a lower legal limit for determining intoxication.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that the legal limit be slashed from 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content down to 0.05 percent. This would be a move that would have to be enacted by each of the individual states, unless Congress passed a federal standard.
Although the current 0.08 percent limit was uniformly established about 10 years ago, the NTSB says reduction of DUI-related injuries and deaths has sputtered, tapering off at about 10,000 fatalities in the U.S. annually.
In addition to lowering the criminal intoxication threshold, the NTSB also recommended that every single person convicted of drunk driving – first-time offender or not – be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle. These devices, as you may be aware, prohibit a vehicle from starting without the passage of an in-vehicle breathalyzer test. Current laws seem to focus primarily on repeat offenders, despite the fact that research shows the average first-time DUI offender has driven drunk at least 80 times before he or she is actually caught and arrested.
Tougher standards are clearly in order.
We know that the determination of blood-alcohol concentration is reliant upon a variety of factors, including a person’s height, weight, gender and even what they ate that day. But in general, a 130-pound female could likely consume three beers within the course of 1.5 hours – and still not technically be intoxicated. Likewise, an 180-pound man could consume about 4 beers during that same time frame – and still not be considered legally drunk.
If the legal standard were lowered to 0.05 percent, these two hypothetical individuals would only be able to consume 2 and 3 drinks, respectively, before reaching the legal limit threshold.
This is not as radical as it might seem. Most other industrialized countries already use the 0.05 percent standard.
As it stands, someone with a BAC of 0.08 percent is nearly 170 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Lower that BAC to 0.05 percent, and that risk drops to about 40 percent.
It’s still high, but at least it’s a significant reduction that could translate into meaningful policy that could help to save lives.
In addition to these measures, there are also technology advances that are being discussed. Those would include built-in alcohol detectors that would measure one’s BAC through the sweat on driver palms on the steering wheel.
Some have argued that actions like this target people who have never before been arrested for drinking and driving.
However, that argument is significantly weakened when you learn that 90 percent of all alcohol-related fatal crashes are caused by a driver who has never before been arrested for a DUI.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
States Urged to Cut Limit on Alcohol for Drivers, May 14, 2013, By Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times
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