Board Pushing To Lower Legal Limit For Drunk Driving

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The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all 50 states lower the threshold from 0.08 blood-alcohol content (BAC) to 0.05 in an effort to thwart drunk driving and lower the number of deaths caused by drunken drivers.

This is critical because impaired driving remains one of the biggest killers in the United States,” NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman said ahead of a vote by the panel on a staff report.

“When the limit was .10, it was very difficult to get it lowered to .08,” said Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the governors group. “We don’t expect any state to go to .05″

The Governors Highway Safety Association disagreed with the boards efforts to lower the alcohol threshold, while commending the board for a comprehensive strategy to address drunken driving. The group favors ignition locks for first-time offenders.

The NTSB unanimously adopted 10 recommendations and repeated nine earlier recommendations, which include:

• Administratively suspending a driver’s license immediately when a driver is arrested for being drunk.

• Suggesting states require steering locks on vehicles driven by convicted drunken drivers that would test the driver’s breath before returning to the road. The group also recommended incentives through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to encourage states to adopt the locks.

• Creating special courts to handle drunken-driving cases.

• Documenting the last place drunken drivers had a drink before their crashes.

More than 100 countries set drunken-driving levels at .05, leaving the U.S. as one of few developed countries with a higher level, according to board staffers.

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