Federal Government Calls for Lowering the Blood Alcohol Limit to One Drink

Could you be arrested for driving under the influence if you only had one drink? If the federal government gets its way, the answer could be yes.

For the past several years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has pushed states to lower their legal blood alcohol limits from .08 to .05 or less. While the NTSB’s recommendation hasn’t gained much support nationwide, some states are beginning to pay attention. For example, state legislators in the Utah House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would lower the legal limit to .05. If the bill passes in the state senate, Utah would have the most restrictive DUI law in the country.

The NTSB is an independent federal agency that Congress entrusted with the tasks of investigating transportation accidents, issuing safety recommendations, and conducting studies on transportation safety. The NTSB investigates all types of transportation-related accidents, including those that happen that happen on the highways, on a railroad, on the ocean, or in pipelines. The NTSB also provides assistance to the victims of large-scale transportation disasters.

Regarding blood alcohol limits, the agency stated: “When it comes to alcohol use, we know that impairment begins before a person’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent, the current legal limit in the United States. In fact, by the time it reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That is why states should lower BAC levels to 0.05— or even lower.”

The problem with the NTSB’s recommendation is that many people are not impaired after one or two drinks. Depending on an individual’s height and weight, drivers may be breaking the law for simply enjoying a glass of wine at a restaurant before driving home.

A .05 BAC is not hard to achieve. In general, a 160-pound man will reach this level after two drinks. Heavier men will reach a .05 BAC after three drinks. The suggested .05 BAC level is more concerning for women, who usually weigh less than their male counterparts and metabolize alcohol faster. A 100-pound woman would be above the .05 BAC limit after a single drink, while women weighing more than 120 pounds would probably reach a .05 BAC after two drinks. However, it is important to note that every person metabolizes alcohol differently, and it could take fewer drinks or more drinks to reach a .05 BAC.

If states decide to follow the NTSB’s recommendation, it is likely that drunk driving arrests will skyrocket. While a lower BAC may prevent some accidents, it will also lead to unnecessary arrests of drivers who are not actually impaired.

After a DUI arrest, drivers face personal, financial, and professional consequences that can affect their lives for years. If you were arrested for driving under the influence, it is important to hire an experienced DUI attorney that can fight back against these charges.

At the Law Office of Jonathan M. Galler P.A., we represent people accused of driving under the influence in Palm Beach County and throughout South Florida. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today by calling 561.881.6912 today and find out more about clearing your name.