The National Transportation Safety Board has decided to recommend that states reduce their legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05 from 0.08. This has created a lot of debate in Ohio and other jurisdictions. Many believe that its only lasting effect will be more drivers facing felony charges even though they only had a glass of wine with dinner. Whether the state will adopt this new legal limit remains to be seen.

No one condones drunk driving, but there are several considerations that make this proposal problematic. Even Mothers Against Drunk Drivers believes that the 0.08 limit is sufficient. MADD would like to see more drunk drivers having to use devices such as an ignition interlock system to keep them off of the road. Police aren’t precluded from arresting someone that has a blood alcohol level of less than 0.08 percent. Field sobriety tests along with trained observation can be enough to warrant an arrest.

However, the NTSB conducted a study that lasted for a year and found some disturbing results. Every hour in our country up to 20 people are injured and one person is killed by a drunk driver. The NTSB believes that the lower limit will help lower these statistics. States can’t be forced to lower their blood alcohol limit, but the federal government has been known to withhold subsidies for roads as a way to persuade states to comply.

If it turns out that the limit is lowered in compliance with the NTSB’s recommendation, many more Ohio drivers could end up facing felony charges for drunk driving. The economy may suffer some as well as restaurants and bars may end up losing significant amounts of revenue since people may not want to take the chance that the glass of wine they consume with dinner could land them in jail. For now, the best thing drivers can do is stay abreast of news regarding this possible change and act accordingly.

Source: cleveland.com, “Feds push more restrictions on drivers’ blood-alcohol levels,” James Ewinger, May 14, 2013