Will Lowering the Blood-Alcohol Limit Decrease DWIs? - Robert Littlefield Buford III, Attorney at Law

Posted by | December 15, 2015 | Uncategorized | No Comments
Lowering Blood-Alcohol Limit Decrease DWIs?

Driving while intoxicated means operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above a specified legal limit. In Texas, that limit is .08 percent. This is actually the limit nationwide as the result of a 2000 federal law which threatened to withhold highway funds from states if they did not adopt the .08 limit. Previously, most states had a higher limit of .10 percent.

Of course, some regulators believe even .08 did not go far enough. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended states lower their blood-alcohol limit to .05. The NTSB claimed “scientific evidence shows that impairment begins with the first drink, and any alcohol consumption associated with driving reduces safety.” The NTSB also cited the examples of Europe and Australia, where it associated a .05 limit with a reduction in fatal car accidents in those jurisdictions.

Will Texas Adopt a .05 Limit?

As of this writing, no state, including Texas, has taken the NTSB’s advice and reduced the DWI limit from .08 to .05 percent. Indeed, many anti-drunk driving advocates have questioned the wisdom of the NTSB’s recommendation. Candace Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told U.S. News & World Report a .05 limit was not a “practical long-term solution” because it “won’t be enforced and will be a waste of time.” Lightner noted local prosecutors would be reluctant to prosecute DWI violators at .05 because most drivers at that limit would pass a field sobriety test.

Similarly, Justin Peters of Slate suggested it might be more cost-effective to focus on providing incentives for drivers to call a taxi after drinking rather than creating more DWI offenders. “[I]t wouldn’t take much to convince towns and cities to excuse parking tickets for drunk people who take cabs home,” Peters cited as just one example. He noted Washington, D.C., had a successful free cab ride program which may have contributed to the area’s low DWI fatality rate.

Do Not Fight a DWI Charge On Your Own

It is important to understand even at .08 percent, you may be legally intoxicated without realizing it. For instance, a woman weighing 120 pounds can exceed the .08 limit if she has three beers over the course of one hour. If Texas ever chose to adopt the stricter .05 limit, then a single beer would likely render the same woman a drunk driver.

If you or a family member is facing a drunk driving charge, it is imperative you seek legal advice from an experienced Austin DWI lawyer. Do not attempt to fight such charges on your own. Contact the lawyers at Buford & Gonzalez today if you need to speak with someone right away.