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Thread: NTSB recommends states lower the drunk driving limit to .05

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    NTSB recommends states lower the drunk driving limit to .05

    Link to Article

    "More than 100 countries have adopted the .05 alcohol content standard or lower, according to a report by the staff of the National Transportation Safety Board. In Europe, the share of traffic deaths attributable to drunken driving was reduced by more than half within 10 years after the standard was dropped, the report said."


    My own opinion on this is it is over the top. I was not much in favor of dropping it from .10 to .08 and am sure against dropping it to .05
    I think the same basic premise for the gun ownership/rights debate that is going on currently applies here. It is not the law abiding drinker who has 1 maybe 2 drinks in an hour or two and drives home that kills people it's the chronic drunk driver who thinks they're superman behind the wheel and regularly drives at .12 or .15 - I gather to say many of us could drive perfectly fine at .08 and even .10

    Last year I for sure thought I was stung at a checkpoint after a night of drinking downtown with friends. I had a few, maybe 5 or 6 over 3 or 4 hours but when asked I told the officer I did drink that night and he gave me a breahalizer through the window which I never saw the number but he let me through so I have to assume it was .079 or lower, but I could almost guarantee it was between .05 and .08.

    It's late and I don't have the stats but would this result in less fatalities? I don't think so. This just seems like many more needless DUI offenses on mostly law abiding individuals' records and increased tickets and insurance premiums for offenders.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    I certainly don't condone drinking and driving and I have seen some research that shows that cognition impairment can occur as low as .05. But I would like to see proof that dropping the legal limit to .05 would actually improve safety. The NTSB needs provide the statistics of how many alcohol related accidents actually occur between .05 and .08. I think distracted driving in general is significantly more dangerous and the NTSB actually made a recommendation that cell phones should be banned while driving. Of course nothing major has happened with that recommendation nationally.

    I think DUI/DWI needs to be enforced much more that it currently is. I know the ads say that get arrested for DWI/DUI and all these terrible things were happen. In reality most offenses are punished with more than a fine and a slap on the wrist. When living in MN I remember hearing that between 1 in 8 and 1 in 7 drivers in MN have a DWI/DUI on their record. That is a scary thought when driving on a late weekend night.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I might be a planner who strongly supports regulation. Especially when it comes to situations where people can't be trusted to "do the right thing". I am sure there are plenty of folks who can drive safely at .1 (alcoholics can go much higher), but that doesn't mean that it should be legal.

    The fact that we have people who can get 5 or more DUIs and still be able to drive is unacceptable. We live in a world where there are just too many options to not put you or the people around you in that situation. I support increased enforcement if it comes with a carrot and stick approach. Forgive the first time. After that the punishment needs to be harsher.

    If lowering the limit can get more severe punishment for those who continually put other safe drivers in danger (i.e. if you blow a .1 you actually get in trouble) then I support it. If it is just going to get police departments more fines, then it is worthless.

    The point should be to keep drunk people from driving, and to keep those who continually make bad choices off the road for good. Just as we do in gun control, we have ways to accomplish this without stealing rights or attacking a specific group.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Random drunk driving checkpoints are proven to be effective in detecting/preventing/reducing drunk driving, but have run into Constitutional challenges in some states.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian AG74683's avatar
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    The way judges handle DUI cases is despicable.

    My sister, who up until her case, had no prior convictions (besides a speeding ticket I think). The stop was fairly shady, and I don't think she was ever properly told what was going on. Evidently she was over the 0.08 and ended up getting charged.

    My parents got her a lawyer, who proceeded to take our money and do absolutely nothing to help her besides continuously delay the case. Finally, nearly 8 months after she was charged, she made it to court. After waiting all day, it was down to her, and one other guy. The guy was up first, and the judge gave him "Not Guilty" even though this was his 4th DUI charge, AND he blew a 0.15!!! Her lawyer turned to her and said, and I quote "This judge never lets off two in a row, you're going to get convicted". Sure enough, she did, lost her license for a year, AND can't really find a job in her field because of it.

    Absolutely ridiculous. Simple way to reduce DUI cases is to target judges who arbitrarily hand down verdicts with no regard to prior convictions or the facts of the case. I understand what she did was illegal, but if you're going to hand down a guilty verdict to someone like her, how can you not give one to the guy who was completely out of line?

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    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    I've read nothing on this other than the headlines, and I probably won't have a chance to during the day today, so I pose this question to those who have more knowledge than I do on this topic - does the NTSB have some verifiable data showing an epidemic of accidents/injuries/deaths caused by drivers in the 0.05 to 0.07 BAC range? If not, what's the point of this?
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Random drunk driving checkpoints are proven to be effective in detecting/preventing/reducing drunk driving, but have run into Constitutional challenges in some states.
    In Ohio you have to announce where they are going to be a day in advance. Even though they do this they still get lots of people.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    I don't know if lowering the limit bothers me all that much, it's just how devastating a DUI/DWI is to a person's track record (even first time offenders). It's reckless to speed to, not to mention driving when you're sleep deprived, but neither of those decisions warrant such harsh sentencing (unlress you're really speeding)

    I wonder if it could be split into levels, similar to a speeding ticket:

    .05 - .08: slap on the wrist (like a fine)

    .08 - .10: reckless decision, but still not a devastating outcome (larger fine and maybe a saturday of driver's ed, stays on your police record for harsher sentence if you're a repeat)

    .10 or above: you're in bad shape...
    Last edited by HomerJ; 15 May 2013 at 9:53 AM. Reason: too early to spell correctly
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I just drank a fifth of vodka, dare me to drive?
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    Cyburbian Plus dvdneal's avatar
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    As a planner I first have to say the answer is not lowering the level, it's bringing in more mass transit. Then I can get trashed and not have to drive home.
    The news last night pointed out the difference between .08 and .05. An average person is at .08 with 3 drinks, .05 with 2 drinks. I think men might be able to take a couple extra drinks because of weight.
    I know I'm still a good driver at 2 drinks, but I set that as a limit for myself because I don't want a DUI.
    My questions would support RCG, would the change influence enough people to stop drinking and driving to the point it would reduce accidents? Are there a lot of accidents at .05 and was it due to drinking or just a random accident?
    I think I'll have a couple drinks and think about it.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ View post
    I don't know if lowering the limit bothers me all that much, it's just how devastating a DUI/DWI is to a person's track record (even first time offenders). It's reckless to speed to, not to mention driving when you're sleep deprived, but neither of those decisions warrant such harsh sentencing (unlress you're really speeding)

    I wonder if it could be split into levels, similar to a speeding ticket:

    .05 - .08: slap on the wrist (like a fine)

    .08 - .10: reckless decision, but still not a devastating outcome (larger fine and maybe a saturday of driver's ed, stays on your police record for harsher sentence if you're a repeat)

    .10 or above: you're in bad shape...

    I like the way you're thinking homer, unfortunately that makes too much sense so there's no way it could be done.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I am not convinced that lowering the BAC to 0.05 is going to do anything to increase safety but it's going to generate a whole lot of revenue for someone.

    Some states really have screwball laws in regards to how DUIs are handled. There's no good reason that someone should have multiple DUIs and still be driving around. If it's a first offense, I think diversion and drug/alcohol counseling is the right way to go with an expungement.

    Frankly, distracted driving probably causes more accidents than DUIs on a daily basis. Look around you on the road and see people eating, talking on their phone, fiddling with the radio, kids going crazy in the back seat, putting on makeup, reading the paper, even saw a lady pumping breast milk once.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    As someone who knows several people who have gotten DUIs, I can tell you that there is a whole money-making machine behind DUIs. A lot of industries now depend on DUIs as a significant portion of their income. Not only are their attorneys who depend heavily on them, but there are DUI schools and instructors, the companies that make the interlock devices, insurance companies who can hike up rates, the towing companies that can charge offenders premium rates for such offenses, courts who in many cases have entire courtrooms devoted to the handling of DUI cases, and the municipalities and counties themselves who not only collect fine money, but also can charge impound fees, bail, "prevention funds", and the like. All this can add up to several thousands of dollars for a first time offender. Which might not be no problem if you're wealthy. But if you're middle class or under, it's a huge burden, especially for someone on the lower end of the BAC scale who is probably less at risk for causing a fatal accident than someone who is tired, talking on the cellphone, reckless, or otherwise distracted.

    People are finally starting to wise up and not drink 4-5+ drinks and drive, and limit themselves to two. So what does an industry that depends on drinking and driving do? Why, lower the limit, so they can keep their incomes from dropping! It's a total sham.

    If they were really concerned about safety, cars would come standard with breathalyzers/interlock devices, or they would expand ride-share programs, taxi services, and mass transit throughout the country. Ever try to hail a cab home at 1am or 2am, especially in the suburbs? It can be a lot more difficult than you would think. We could save a lot of money and a lot of lives by having more drunk buses and taxis and the like during these hours....and more awareness/education, portable breathalyzers, etc, instead of trying to suck everyone for money.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    My brother was arrested and got a dui (and a license suspension) for blowing a .06. The legal limit here in Cali is .08. He was out to dinner with my parents and had one glass of win over the course of 90 minutes and ate a large dinner. Apparently the law is that if the police wants to say you are impaired they can charge you even though you might be as low as a .03. He wasn't impaired but when he blew the .06 he made a comment about how he was probably driving better than the cop and so the cop decided to use his authority to screw him. Coincidentally, that made my brother kind of pissed to be arrested and he made a comment about the cops mom. so then the cop beat the crap out of him in jail and filed a report saying it was another prisoner. now I'm getting off topic.

    So anyways, he ended up getting a pocket breathalizer as a result, to make sure he never got another dui. And my point is that we played with this breathalyzer, and even half a beer was putting us at about .05 within about a 10 minute time frame. Even taking my asthma inhaler registered as about a .02. It's not a reasonable indication of impairment. Not at all.

    It's simply a money making thing, combined with the desire by certain segments of the population to control the private lives of individuals. Further still, the .05 threshold is so low that it risks making it illegal to drive while on asthma medicine or other such methyl based products. Even certain medical conditions like diabeties produce chemicals in the breath that can register on a breathalyzer.

    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    The news last night pointed out the difference between .08 and .05. An average person is at .08 with 3 drinks, .05 with 2 drinks. I think men might be able to take a couple extra drinks because of weight.
    .
    That's what they say, but I don't think that is accurate. Those charts show that I would be below a .08 with 4 beers in an hour. I'm 200 lbs and have a decent tolerance for alcohol. I've blown over a .08 on a pocket breathalyzer with under 2 beers in an hour.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    This is all about greasing the palms of DUI racket as so well-explained by illinoisplanner. Once again, the working man/woman gets screwed.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    While I recognize that certain groups can potentially profit from a DUI, namely insurance companies, I do not think that there is a huge financial ploy in motion here. If I remember correctly, DUI arrests usually costs the lead agency money, which is probably why the specific checkpoints and saturation patrols conducted in my area are only accomplished as a result of grant funding. Even the process of booking the DUI arrests requires more man hours than other types of arrests. I am not sure what the difference in cost actually is though, but I highly doubt that municipalities are able to line the coffers with 'profits' made DUI busts. I can imagine that the costs of a DUI (for outside parties) probably gets more upset if an accident, or more importantly a fatality, were to occur. I suppose the breathalyzer and interlock companies win regardless though...

    I think the other arguments regarding other potentially dangerous scenarios, such as texting and driving, are a red herring. While I agree that people should not engage in bad behavior while driving (there are different laws that address those issues), drunk driving is not exactly the same. Those behaviors are a momentary lapse in ones ability to respond. Being drunk, however, leaves you in a state of mind that is unfit for driving. Both can have potentially devastating consequences, but if you have been drinking heavily, you should not be getting into the driver's seat. The issue with distracted driving is that it usually is temporary enough that the chances if it being seen when a LEO is nearby makes it relatively tough to enforce..but they do occur (I earned a cell phone ticket a few years ago )

    I think the goal of the reduced limit is to simply make people consider one less drink. While this rule will not exactly stop the habitual DUI offender, it may work for the normal person who is out celebrating but was not planning on actually getting hammered. I personally do not think the reduction is necessary, but I can see some of the logic. I imagine that the reductions in DUI accidents from the .1 to .08 can be attributed to a subconscious idea of "one less drink tonight."

    I think Homer J's breakdown would be better though, since it places a proportional fine to the risk you're generating, just like 5 mph over the limit is less severe than going 25 mph over the limit. I do not think that there is a strong enough connection between .05-.08 being a significant risk, at least to the point where you would see a reduction in fatalities or severe incidents. Other factors probably represent a greater risk given this margin.
    Last edited by dw914er; 15 May 2013 at 6:21 PM.
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