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Legal Blog

NTSB Urges States to Lower Legal Limit from .08 to .05

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been urging states to lower the blood-alcohol legal limit from .08% to .05% since 2013. The agency, which is charged with the role of investigating and advancing safety transportation policy, can make recommendations to states and the federal government but does not have the authority to pass laws or regulations. While states have pushed back on lowering the legal limit, the NTSB has recently renewed this effort by making this a priority on the agency’s top ten “Most Wanted” list for 2016.

According to an investigation conducted by the NTSB, one-third of highway deaths over the past 15 years involved an alcohol-impaired driver. The NTSB bases their recommendation regarding the legal limit on data showing that drivers with a .08% blood-alcohol level are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash. The agency believes that having a legal limit of .05 could save at least 1,000 lives per year.

NTSB officials also think that adopting a stricter standard would decrease drinking and driving for both social and heavy drinkers. Blood-alcohol concentration depends on a number of factors including gender and weight, but a limit of .05% would mean a 180-pound man could only legally consume three beers or glasses of wine in 90 minutes. For a 130-pound woman, she would be able to consume around two drinks in 90 minutes to remain at a .05% limit.

Legal Limit Unlikely to Change Anytime Soon

Although states establish their own blood-alcohol limits, all 50 states had adopted the .08 legal limit by 2004 and that was 10 years in the making. Perhaps the most influential lobbying group when it comes to drunk driving laws, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), does not think that the NTSB’s recommendation to lower the legal limit to .05 is likely to happen anytime soon. The executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state and territorial highway safety offices, has also stated that it is unrealistic that states will lower the legal limit to .05 given how difficult it was to get the legal limit to .08.

New Texas Law Focuses on Interlock Devices

Texas has led the nation in drunk driving deaths since 2013 and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a stunning 40 percent of all traffic deaths in the state are a result of drunk drivers. While studies indicate that over 4 million people drive while intoxicated every year, the reality is that state laws tend to focus on repeat offenders or heavy drinkers.

In the most recent legislative session, Texas passed a law requiring interlock devices for first-time DWI offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. The law went into effect September 1, 2015 and follows a recent trend among more than 17 states that have adopted laws requiring convicted drunk drivers to use interlock devices in their vehicles in order to keep their driving privileges. Groups such as MADD have made such laws a priority, believing that it would be more effective at keeping drunk drivers off the road than license suspension alone.

Contact Our Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a family member has been seriously injured by a drunk driver, contact the experienced Houston personal injury lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for help. Our skilled lawyers have decades of experience helping individuals and families receive fair compensation for medical costs, loss of earning capacity, physical pain, mental anguish, physical impairment or disfigurement caused by a motor vehicle accident. We are dedicated to helping you recover the compensation that you deserve.

Please contact our firm today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free, one-on-one case consultation with one of our skilled Houston personal injury lawyers.