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Lowered drunk driving threshold supported by panel

| Jan 18, 2018 | Drunk Driving (DUI)

Virginia motorists who are concerned about drunk driving may be interested to know that a report was commissioned by the government to address how to prevent the 10,000 annual deaths that result from such behavior. The panel, which consisted of members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, offered multiple suggestions, including making the blood-alcohol concentration threshold significantly lower, from .08 to .05.

There would be multiple factors that would affect how much alcohol it would take to reach the .05 limit. They include whether the individual had eaten recently and the individual’s weight and height. According to the report, there are studies that indicate that the majority of women who weigh in excess of 120 pounds would have to consume two drinks to reach .05. Men who weigh about 160 pounds would also be at the threshold after two drinks, while those who are over 180 pounds would have to consume three drinks.

Also recommended in the report is that there be a substantial increase in state-level alcohol taxes. It report cites research that indicates doubling alcohol taxes can result in 11 percent fewer traffic accident fatalities. The panel further suggests that states make it more difficult to obtain alcohol by limiting the number of hours and days alcohol can be sold in bars, restaurants and stores. Stiff opposition to the proposals is expected from the restaurant and alcohol industries. In response to a new Utah law that reduced the state’s threshold to .05 and that become effective on Dec. 30, 2018, the American Beverage Association published newspaper ads expressing disapproval.

A conviction on drunk driving charges can result in significant penalties, including incarceration and the loss of driving privileges. That is why people who have been taken into custody for DUI might find it advisable to meet with a defense attorney at the earliest opportunity.