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New blood-alcohol limits suggested by the NTSB

Wisconsin and other states are currently being called upon to lower their blood-alcohol concentration limits by the National Transportation Safety Board. In an effort to reduce the rate of drunk driving, the board is urging states to lower their BAC limit from the current cutoff of 0.08 to 0.05. Currently, there is approximately a one in three chance that a fatal car accident will have been caused by someone driving while intoxicated. According to a study done by the board, lowering the limit will save approximately 500 to 800 lives a year.

More than 100 countries have BAC limits at or under 0.05, and the last time the legal limit was lowered in the United States, the number of drunk driving deaths decreased. During the 1980s, the standard legal limit was 0.15, but safety groups campaigned to have the legal limit lowered. By 2004, every state in the country had a legal limit no higher than 0.08. This appears to have had a huge impact on the number of fatal car accidents involving drunk driving: In 1980, alcohol-related highway fatalities numbered over 20,000, but by 2011, the number was under 10,000.

The NTSB is also suggesting that states consider other measures that could reduce the rate of drunk driving. One of these is a for police officers to use passive alcohol sensors, which can detect alcohol in the air even if someone has tried to cover the scent with mints or gum.

Someone who has been in an accident caused by a drunk driver could end up with permanent disabilities and ongoing medical expenses. An attorney could evaluate the person's case and help him or her understand what legal recourse is available to them.

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

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