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The Debate Over Lowering the Legal Blood Alcohol Limit to 0.05: What You Need to Know

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advocating for a reduction in the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for alcohol impairment from 0.08 to 0.05. This proposal has raised questions about its rationale and potential impact on DUI laws. Why is the focus on 0.05, and is it significantly different from the current 0.08 limit?

The 0.08 BAC limit for impairment has its origins in a national campaign led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the 1980s. The objective was to combat drunk driving and enhance road safety. But what drives the push to lower the limit, and what would such a change entail?

The NTSB cites data indicating that the risk of a DUI-related crash is significantly reduced when drivers have a BAC of 0.05 instead of 0.08. Many countries worldwide, including Australia, parts of Europe, and South America, have already set their legal limits at 0.05 per this evidence.

However, there are arguments against lowering the limit. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contends that the majority of serious DUI accidents involve drivers with much higher BAC levels, often exceeding 0.15. Advocates for maintaining the current limit suggest that focusing on repeat offenders and severely intoxicated drivers would align better with the spirit of a 0.05 law.

Another concern is that a 0.05 BAC limit can be reached with relatively small amounts of alcohol consumption. This means that someone who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner might be at risk of facing criminal charges even if they are not impaired. It’s important to note that there is already a criminal charge for drivers caught with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08, known as Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI).


In conclusion, the debate over lowering the legal BAC limit for alcohol impairment to 0.05 continues, with proponents emphasizing safety benefits and opponents raising concerns about potential unintended consequences. DUI and DWAI charges can have serious legal consequences. If you are facing such charges, consulting with a DUI defense attorney is advisable, as they can help you navigate the legal process and potentially work to reduce or dismiss your charges.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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