NTSB recommends lowering BAC level in DUI cases to .05

The National Transportation Safety Board recently voted to recommend to States to lower the blood alcohol level in DUI cases to .05. Currently all 50 States have the same DUI BAC level of .08. Citing an increase in DUI fatalities as well as drunk driving incidents NTSB estimates such a change would save over 1000 lives a year.

The article I read this morning discussed how this proposal has not surprisingly been met with much criticism. From other DUI Attorneys, to the American Beverage Institute many individuals feel that lowering the blood alcohol level to .05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior. Why not make it illegal to consume any alcohol and drive if this is what they want to propose. Interestingly enough not even traditional anti-DUI organizations such as MADD are not even endorsing this idea.

The NTSB is citing studies in Australia that show once their DUI BAC level was dropped to .05 there was approximately an 18% drop off in traffic fatalities involving DUI cases. The NTSB has gone on record saying they believe if all States drop the blood alcohol level in DUI cases over 1000 lives could be saved every year from alcohol related crashes.

In case you have never heard of the NTSB it is important to understand they are simply an investigative agency. They have no legal authority to propose changes to the law. Essentially they can be viewed as a lobbyist group. It’s unlikely this will happen, but it could start to gain traction if things continue the way they are going.

Here in Seattle, we have had our own problems with drunk driving and fatalities. In fact as a Seattle DUI Attorney I cannot remember the last time there was such a negative cloud over DUI offenses. I mean don’t get me wrong I’m all for creating safer environments for the public, and repeat DUI offenders is a problem. Especially when it can seem that not enough is being done to prevent alcohol related fatalities.

But proposals such as these. Like lowering blood alcohol levels by almost twice the amount is the wrong way to approach things. There have been plenty of studies that have shown individuals at levels of .04-.05 are not affected by alcohol to the point their gross motor functions and ability to drive a vehicle are impaired. This would be equivalent to 1 drink. So say goodby to having a glass of wine with dinner. And lets not forget the legal limit used to be .10.

But proposals like this are nothing new. Locally even we are in for some changes when it comes to DUI laws. Remember the special legislative session started this week and in addition to trying to balance the budget the other important piece of legislation trying to get passed is an increase in penalties for repeat DUI offenders as well as some other toughening up of DUI laws.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic offenses. He is currently rated as one of the Top Seattle DUI Lawyers by Avvo, and listed as a Rising Star in Seattle DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine.