Feds propose lowering drunk driving limit

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The National Transportation Safety Board says America’s roads would be safer if all states lowered their levels for drunk driving from .08 percent blood alcohol level to .05 percent.

During a safety board hearing in Washington, the NTSB contends the risk of a crash diminishes by half if the lower level is enforced, but opponents said such a change carries a risk of criminalizing otherwise legal drivers.

“The same person may be different at .05 today than they are at .05 tomorrow,” said Indianapolis DUI attorney John Tompkins. “A person at .05 at noon is different than a person at .05 Saturday night.”

Under the proposed standards, an average male could have four drinks in three hours; a woman three drinks in three hours.

In Indiana, the legal limit for drunk driving is .08 percent blood alcohol though prosecutors can use a reading as low at .05 percent to prove intoxication as a factor in an accident.

“Some people may not believe there’s any credibility in arguing that it’s inappropriate to drive at a .05,” said Tompkins. “I think the greater danger is you can’t change reality. If people are not dangerous at .05, they’re not dangerous at .05. That doesn’t mean you can’t be arrested at .05 if they pass a law that says you can be arrested at .05.”

Downtown bar managers who didn’t want to be quoted by name told Fox 59 News that such a level could hurt business and is unfair to responsible customers who do not drink to dangerous levels.

The NTSB said that one-third of all U.S traffic deaths are related to alcohol and while its recommendations are not mandatory, Congress can make adherence to such limits a requirement for states to receive federal highway funds.