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.
In January, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced its "Most Wanted" list for transportation safety programs in 2016. One of the items the NTSB wants to see accomplished this year is for states to lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers from .08 to .05 or less.
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 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 Offices of Virginia L. Landry, our Orange County DUI defense attorneys represent people accused of driving under the influence every day, and will work to help you clear your name. For more information about the DUIs or the DUI process, visit www.duiqueen.com. To set up a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys, call 866.902.6880 today.