Debate on Changing the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit

Debate on Changing the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit

Opinion- Change the BAC Level vs. Keep the BAC Level

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Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits

In the United States, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended States lower their blood alcohol concentration limits. Two experts debate whether to maintain the current limit at 0.08 percent or lower it for the first time in 13 years to 0.05 percent.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 1:00pm

Opinion- Change the BAC Level

Kathryn Stewart, Director of Dissemination at the Prevention Research Center

The United States is among a handful of countries that sets the illegal blood alcohol concentration as high as 0.08 percent. Perhaps that is one reason we trail behind many other developed countries in our traffic safety record. In virtually every country where the illegal level has been lowered, lives have been saved.

When several European countries lowered their levels to 0.05 percent, researchers tallied the reductions in traffic deaths to be somewhere between 8 percent and 12 percent among drivers ages 18 to 49. And in Australia, fatal crashes decreased by 18 percent in Queensland and 8 percent in New South Wales after those states lowered their limits to 0.05 percent. In Sweden, when the illegal level went from an already-low 0.05 percent to 0.02 percent in 1990, the proportion of alcohol-related fatalities declined sharply, from 31 percent in 1989 to 18 percent in 1997. In our own country, lowering the limit from 0.10 to 0.08 was associated with reductions in impaired driving crashes and fatalities from between 5 percent and 16 percent.

Most countries that have lowered their illegal blood alcohol concentration levels have seen dramatic declines in traffic deaths.

Read more about changing the BAC Level on Brown-Forman's The Issues Forum


Opinion- Keep the BAC Level

Gary Biller, President of the National Motorists Association

The call by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) earlier this year to reduce the legal limit of driving under the influence from the current 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.05 percent is illogical and antithetical to an open society that marks a healthy democracy.

Every highway fatality is a tragedy. However, we must also consider each life transformed by being forever branded with a DUI conviction. These charges often come without evidence of impairment; only a legal determination that 0.05 BAC means the driver is under the influence.

Read more about keeping the BAC Level on Brown-Forman's The Issues Forum