A scientific panel commissioned by the federal government has come back with a sweeping report recommending tougher laws to reduce drunk driving rates nationwide. Its chief recommendation for getting rid of the “entirely preventable” 10,000 alcohol-related driving deaths each year is for states to lower their legal threshold for drunk driving.
Lower Threshold for Drunk Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to determine which strategies have proven most effective in reducing drunk driving. The panel studying the matter released its 489-page report on January 17, 2018.
The report’s chief recommendation is to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for drunk driving from 0.08% to 0.05%. All states currently have a 0.08% threshold, though a law already passed in Utah would lower that state’s threshold to 0.05% by the end of the year.
In support of its findings, the report cited studies arguing that the United States lags behind many other high-income countries in curbing drunk driving fatalities, with over 100 countries already having adopted a 0.05% threshold. And they appear to have yielded positive results: Within ten years after the widespread adoption of the lower threshold, European traffic deaths attributed to drunk driving were reduced by more than half.
What Would 0.05% BAC Mean?
How much alcohol a person would have to consume in order to reach the 0.05% threshold would depend on several factors, including whether that person has recently eaten as well as his or her size.
For example, according to the American Beverage Institute, a 150-pound man could exceed the 0.05% limit after drinking two beers, while a woman weighing only 120 pounds may cross that threshold after a single drink.
Other Anti-Drunk Driving Proposals
The report also offered other recommendations to curb drunk driving, including the following:
- Significantly increasing alcohol taxes. The report suggested that doubling current alcohol tax rates could reduce the number of traffic crash deaths by 11 percent.
- Reducing the hours and days that alcohol is sold in stores, bars, and restaurant.
- Cracking down on sales to people who are under 21 or already intoxicated to discourage binge drinking.
- Putting limits on alcohol marketing while at the same time funding anti-alcohol campaigns similar to current ones against smoking.
Industry Pushback Against Panel’s Findings
The alcohol and restaurant industries are expected to offer stiff pushback against the panel’s recommendations. In fact, some industry lobbyists already have.
In response to the report, the Distilled Spirits Council issued a statement that the panel’s recommendations would “do nothing to deter” the repeat offenders and drivers with high BACs who it claims are responsible for the “vast majority” of drunk driving deaths. The group also opposes advertising bans and tax hikes, saying they have “little or no impact on traffic safety.”
Drunk Driving: Some Sobering Statistics
Whether or not the panel’s recommendations are implemented, the statistics on drunk driving in the United States remain troubling.
According to the report, drunk driving accounts for 28 percent of all traffic deaths. An average of 29 people across the country die in alcohol-related crashes each day, while many more are injured. Moreover, 40% of those killed in alcohol-related crashes are people other than the drunk driver.
Chicago Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
If you have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to obtain financial compensation for your injuries. In addition to going after the drunk driver’s auto insurance coverage, you could potentially pursue the bar or restaurant that served the drunk driver alcoholic beverages under the Illinois Dram Shop Act.
But achieving a successful outcome in a Dram Shop case, or in any personal injury claim for that matter, requires knowledge of the applicable law, hard work, dedication, familiarity with the arguments and trapdoors laid out by insurance companies and seasoned defense attorneys, and the expertise to overcome them.
Faced with such obstacles, many injured people find that they may benefit from the guidance of experienced drunk driving accident lawyers like the attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers, Illinois’ largest Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firm.
If you have been wrongfully injured, please contact GWC today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives.