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NTSB calls for lower BAC limit

Alcohol-related car accidents kill approximately 10,000 people each year in Texas and across the United States. Transportation safety investigators are responding the the high rate of fatal accidents by calling for a lower threshold to determine whether a driver is legally intoxicated. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that a .05 percent blood alcohol content limit be put in place in all 50 states. The current limit that is used to prosecute those who are implicated in a drunk driving accident is .08 percent.

The NTSB chairman stated that while most people think the U.S. has solved the issue of drunk driving deaths, the issue remains a national epidemic. Though progress has been made in the form of tougher laws and strong advocacy, people are still dying in DUI-related crashes. While the NTSB does not believe there is a single remedy for the problem, they do believe more federal and state action is in order.

The safety board predicts that 500 to 800 lives would be saved annually by putting the .05 percent limit in place. Currently, a male who weighs 180 lbs. reaches the limit of .08 percent within an hour if he consumes approximately four drinks. Under the proposed limit, the 180 lb. male would reach the limit after consuming two to three drinks within an hour.

Though the NTSB is considered an authority when it comes to suggesting safety regulations, the agency is unable to change laws on its own. If lawmakers heed the NTSB recommendations and create nationwide laws that reflect the agency's suggestions, the change in law could result in more DUI arrests in Texas and in other states. This could mean that people who are injured in accidents that are caused by intoxicated drivers may be able to prove the other driver's recklessness more easily, which in turn could make seeking damages in civil court easier for plaintiffs.

Source: CNN, "Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths", Mike Ahlers, May 15, 2013

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