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States advised to lower BAC levels

The South Carolina legislature, along with those of other states, has been advised to consider lowering current legal blood alcohol content limits from .08 percent to .05 percent by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB makes this recommendation as part of an overall plan to reduce drunk driving accidents and deaths. Currently, drunk driving charges can be made if drivers have a blood alcohol content equivalent to more than four drinks per hour for the average 180-pound man; the change would mean the same man might register as impaired after consuming only two beverages.

The controversial proposal comes about in an effort to stem the tide of injury and death associated with DUI accidents. Current statistics show that about one-third of all vehicle deaths are alcohol-related. The NTSB is also advising that police should be able to confiscate licenses of those who do not pass a field sobriety test when pulled over for drunk driving. These measures are seen as a way to make the roads safer, with the NTSB claiming that between 500 and 800 fatalities could be prevented each year if states adopt these measures.

While making the roads safer seems to be a good plan, there may be problems with the proposals by the NTSB. For one thing, drivers may be listed as impaired when they are not, since alcohol metabolism rates vary greatly among individuals. Further, allowing the police the power to confiscate a license may give authorities power to circumvent the due process system.

A DUI attorney may be able to represent an individual accused of drunk driving. A DUI charge carries with it significant penalties including driver's license suspension and heavy fines, so a person charged with drunk driving must be able to mount a strong defense to avoid these penalties.

Source: CNN, "Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths", Mike Ahlers, May 15, 2013

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