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Government Agency Recommends Lowering Driving Alcohol Limit

Update Date: May 15, 2013 12:14 PM EDT

Drunk driving killed 9,878 people and injured around 350,000 people within the United States in 2011 according to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) organizations. Drunk driving is an extremely dangerous activity that could be preventable through education and awareness. Yet, despite efforts in campaigning against drunk driving, many people still ignore the warnings and get behind the wheel despite being intoxicated. In a different attempt to curb drunk driving, the independent federal agency, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), has decided to recommend all states to reconsider changing the legal blood alcohol limit allowed for drivers.

The current legal blood alcohol concentration limit sits at 0.08, with any number equal to or above that rate illegal. People can be arrested for a BAC of below 0.08 if the police believe that the driver might be influenced by more than one drug or appears to be severely impaired. BAC is calculated by dividing the amount of alcohol by the volume of blood that it is in. The NTSB now wants the BAC limit to be lowered to 0.05, which is the legal limit in other countries, such as Denmark, Switzerland, and the Philippines. The BAC of 0.05 could already negatively affect people's abilities to drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers with a BAC of 0.05 might already experience poorer coordination skills and slower reflexes.

"We need as much attention today on impaired driving as we saw in the early 1980s when organizations like MADD were founded and the drinking age became 21. Over that decade, real progress was achieved in the United States," Deborah A.P. Hersman, the chairman of the NTSB, wrote.

Due to different weights and heights, the number of drinks that would raise BAC to 0.05 is not set. Based from a BAC calculator provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a woman weighting around 120 pounds would reach the 0.05 limit after drinking two beers in a little over an hour.

Despite these new efforts at lowering the BAC limit, several experts believe that states will not adopt this change due to the fact that changing the BAC from 0.1 to 0.08 was difficult enough in the past. 

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