Government-Commissioned Study Calls For Lowering Drunk Driving Threshold

Reduce legal blood-alcohol limit to cut drunk driving deaths: report

Advisory Panel Recommends Reducing Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit To Prevent Traffic-Related Deaths

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is recommending significantly lowering the drunk driving threshold from.08 to.05, saying the change could eliminate thousands of entirely preventable alcohol impaired driving deaths in the US each year. "Unless there is data that comes out that says that you're impaired below that, I think we should stick with the science".

There is strong evidence that higher alcohol taxes reduce binge drinking and drunk driving deaths, the National Academies panel said. For most women, the lower limit would mean a maximum of two drinks; for most men, three drinks. The Distilled Spirits Council says scaling back to 0.05 percent wouldn't deter repeat offenders and those who drink to excessive levels, who are responsible for most alcohol-impaired fatalities.

Ludwig said it's the repeat offenders who are causing numerous alcohol-related crashes.

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The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report recommended a number of actions lowering state laws on BAC, raising alcohol taxes significantly, strengthening policies to prevent illegal alcohol sales to people under 21 and to already intoxicated adults, enacting all-offender ignition interlock laws, and providing effective treatment for offenders when needed. "These are entirely preventable if people would just have conversations and understand the dangers that they're putting themselves in and others in if they get behind the wheel after drinking", Shupe said.

The report, released January 17, also calls for stronger measures to prevent illegal alcohol sales to people under 21 and to already-drunk adults. In Europe, the share of traffic deaths attributable to drunken driving was reduced by more than half within 10 years after the standard was dropped, the National Transportation Safety Board said in 2013. More than 100 countries have adopted the 0.05 threshold.

This is why the agency also recommends a BAC limit reduction to 0.05 percent.

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