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DUI arrests may increase if states adopt NTSB recommendations

Drunk driving arrests may increase if North Carolina adopts the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations to reduce the threshold for drunk driving offenses. The NTSB recently recommended that states reduce the threshold for drunk driving to .05 blood-alcohol content level instead of .08 percent. 

The recommendation was issued to try and reduce the number of fatal car accidents caused by drunk driving throughout the U.S. The NTSB said they recommended the .05 BAC level because that is what over 100 other countries have as their legal alcohol content standard. The NTSB reported that Europe saw a decrease in drunk driving fatalities after they adopted the .05 BAC standard. 

While the NTSB wants to reduce the alcohol content legal limit for safety reasons, many legal experts are worried about the impact reducing the standard would have on DUI arrests and convictions. If North Carolina or other states adopt the recommendations into law, it would most likely increase the number of drivers arrested for drunk driving.

This is because it would take fewer alcohol drinks for someone to potentially become intoxicated and get behind the wheel without thinking they are drunk. For many people, it would take a lot less alcohol or fewer drinks for a driver to have a .05 BAC. Research shows that a 120-pound woman having one drink within the hour could have a .05 BAC and a 160-pound man would have a .05 BAC after having two drinks.

The NTSB said it is not their intention to increase the number of drunk driving arrests or stop people from drinking. However, they did say that any amount of alcohol in a person's system can affect their driving performance so it is best for people not to drive even if they've had one or two drinks.

While the NTSB would like to see states change their drunk driving laws, they are only able to make recommendations and it is up to each state propose any legislative changes. If North Carolina does adopt the lower standard, more drivers may find themselves being arrested for drunk driving even after just one drink.

Source: WNCT, "Tougher drunken driving threshold recommended," Joan Lowy, May 14, 2013