The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sparked a national discussion after recommending that states lower their legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit for motorists. In New York, the limit is 0.08 percent; if the NTSB successfully lobbies lawmakers that limit could lower significantly, to 0.05.
The issue is controversial because it involves balancing personal rights with public safety. When you consider the interests of the New York alcoholic beverage industry and drunk driving prevention groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), you have a lot of passionate entities fighting for their respective causes.
Let’s assume lowering the BAC will save some lives. After all, Australia reduced its BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05 percent and its provinces experienced various decreases in traffic fatalities ranging from 5-18 percent. In 2012, NYC had 270 traffic fatalities; if it experienced a decrease similar to Australia then 13 to 22 fewer people would die each year.
Do you think the BAC should be lowered? Is your opinion different because you live in NYC, where mass transit or taxis are always available? What if you lived upstate?
We’ll keep you informed as New York legislators debate the merits of a BAC change. Regardless of the legal limit, each driver is responsible for their own driving abilities. It doesn’t matter whether someone hits you with a 0.04 BAC or 0.7, they are still liable to you for the resulting harm.
If you’ve been injured by a drunk driver, contact an experienced New York auto accident attorney to discuss your legal rights to money damages.
Source: NBC News, “NTSB Recommends Lowering Blood Alcohol Level That Constitutes Drunken Driving,” Tom Costello, May 14, 2013