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The National Transportation Safety Board voted Tuesday to recommend lowering the legal blood-alcohol concentration limit to 0.05% for drunken driving nationwide.
The vote came after board members considered a safety report entitled "Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving." The report provided an overview of impaired driving, current efforts to curb DUI deaths, and proposed safety recommendations.
Now that the NTSB has reached its decision, what effect will this have on the nation's drivers?
Effect of NTSB Recommendations
The NTSB is a federal agency whose board members are appointed by the president. One of their main duties is to issue safety recommendations to federal, state, and local government agencies.
But government agencies that do not follow these recommendations are not sanctioned or fined by the NTSB. This may explain why it took 21 years for all 50 states to adopt the NTSB's recommendation to move the legal BAC limit from 0.10% to 0.08%, reports NBC News.
Jurisdictions With a 0.05% Limit
The Board made this recommendation with an eye toward other countries that have successfully implemented lower drunken-driving limits. One example: Queensland, Australia, where the legal BAC limit has already been lowered from 0.08% to 0.05%. That resulted in an 18% decrease in fatalities, according to the NTSB report.
NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman believes that lowering the BAC limit may help eliminate drunken driving in the United States, reports CNN.
How Many Drinks to Reach 0.05%?
Although online BAC calculators are available for free online, inviting you to "check yourself before you wreck yourself," the approximate difference between a BAC of 0.08% and 0.05% is about one to two drinks, depending on your gender and body type, reports The Washington Post.
Even if all states ignore the recommendation of the NTSB to lower the limit to 0.05%, drivers in many states, like Colorado, can still be arrested for "driving while ability impaired," or DWAI, if they have a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08%. Keep in mind some states also enforce lower (and even zero-tolerance) BAC limits for certain types of drivers, such as school bus drivers.