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Panel urges reduction of legal BAC limit

Virginia motorists may face a more serious likelihood of a drunk driving arrest if the recommendations of a panel are enacted by the state. The federal government commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to make recommendations that could help to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents on the road. Each year, around 10,000 people lose their lives in such crashes across the country.

People can be charged with drunk driving if they are found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. In 49 states, that limit is 0.08 percent, but Utah was the first step to reduce the BAC limit to 0.05 percent on Dec. 30, 2018. While Utah is an outlier, the panel backed the state's attempt to further limit people's ability to drive under the influence of alcohol. It is relatively easy for people to meet or exceed a limit of 0.05 percent; for most women weighing 120 pounds or more, they would be limited to two drinks at most. Men weighing over 180 pounds may reach the limit after three drinks.

The BAC limit reduction was not the only recommendation made by the panel. It also called upon states to hike alcohol taxes in order to decrease consumption, proposing that a doubling of state alcohol taxes could lead to 11 percent fewer traffic fatalities. The report also urged cutting back on the hours when alcohol can be legally sold.

Drunk driving charges can have a serious impact on a person's life. If convicted, people may face hefty fines, the loss or suspension of a driver's license, insurance premium hikes and other major concerns. Accordingly, motorists who are in this position might find it advisable to have the assistance of an attorney when trying to counter the prosecution's allegations.

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