Lowering the Legal Blood Alcohol Limit For Driving May Not Be the Answer to DUI Deaths
As a personal injury lawyer in Virginia Beach who sees at first hand the horrific results of drunk driving, I am interested in the current conversation over the lowering of blood alcohol (BAC) limits across the United States.
This month the National Transportation Safety Board unanimously recommended that the states lower the legal BAC level while driving from .08 to .05.
It sounds like a good idea in practice. But research from other countries suggests the lowering of the BAC level under the criminal law may have a negligible effect on the drunk driving death toll.
According to statistics, less than one percent of all traffic fatalities involve a BAC level of .05 to .08, but 70 percent of drunken driving deaths involve a BAC level of .15 or higher.
Other changes may prove to be more fruitful. To reduce the number of alcohol related accidents, states are now looking into ignition interlock technology for repeat offenders and into expanding DUI courts so these offenders don’t slip through the system.
The ignition interlock appears to be one of the most effective ideas yet.
Virginia introduced an ignition interlock program for first time DUI offenders for the first time in 2012.
The system can be abused. There have been instances of offenders getting someone else to blow into the device for them.
However, it seems to be very effective for repeat offenders and makes them think twice before getting in the car.
Other measures that states have taken include suspending, restricting, and revoking licenses. These suspensions can lead to fines of more than a thousand dollars to reinstate and the offender can be forced to attend alcohol abuse classes.
The Virginian-Pilot recently reported these kinds of measures are likely to have the most impact on the issue of drunk driving, as opposed to the lowering the lawful BAC level.
What is clear is the scale of the problem that leads to thousands of deaths and injuries every year. In 2010 there were more than 8,200 accidents linked to drunk driving in Virginia alone.
On average, 30 people die every day in the United States due to an alcohol-impaired driver and the annual costs of these of these accidents totals a massive $51 billion. It’s questionable whether reducing the BAC limit will make a significant difference. If people are ignoring the BAC level now, they will likely continue to ignore it, if it is lowered.
To effectively reduce alcohol-related vehicle fatalities, states should consider a wider range of more innovative punishments, rather than lowering the BAC level.
Too many of our policies fail to target the hardcore drunken drivers, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
Rather than concentrating on BACs, The National Transportation Safety Board Creating should consider harsher punishments and other ways to prevent states giving second chances to these offenders.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver on the roads of Virginia, you should consider contacting a Virginia car accident attorney for a free consultation.