Should Drunk Driving Laws be Revised?
According to national statistics, about one-third of the more than 30,000 traffic fatalities that occur on America’s roadways each year are alcohol-related. A preventable death occurs once every 53 minutes. Because these fatalities, and other accidents that involve injury and property damage, are preventable, people consistently look for ways that drunk driving can be deterred.
As DUI attorneys, we have heard many stories. We have been involved with good people at some of the worst times in their lives. One of the deterrents to drunk driving that is often discussed is revamping DUI laws. One suggestion is to lower the current legal limit from 0.08 to 0.05 to bring America in line with other industrialized countries in the United States.
In our daily practice, we often find that people who had a 0.08 BAC, or registered close to that percentage, didn’t “feel” drunk. Studies have shown that it doesn’t take as many drinks as one might think to slow reaction time and impair driving. For example, one study showed that reaction time for the average person is impaired by 120 milliseconds at a BAC of 0.08. If you are travelling at 70 mph, that accounts for about 12 feet of roadway that you would have to stop, slow down or alter your direction of travel.
The legal limit in the United States was set at 0.08 in 2000. States had until 2004 to comply with the standard and it is now the law across the country. The lowering of the legal limit from 0.10 resulted in a decrease in alcohol-related fatalities which may be, in part, why some states are considering lowering it even further.
While everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, it takes the average 160-pound man about four drinks (one every 40 minutes) to reach a BAC of 0.08. It would take about three to reach a level of 0.05. At the lower level, it can become difficult to respond to road emergencies, rapidly focus and stay alert.
The problem with lowering the BAC limit across the board is that people react uniquely to alcohol in their system. The way that one behaves with a BAC of 0.05 may not be the same way another reacts. Someone who rarely drinks may be impaired. Someone who drinks socially on the weekends may not be impaired at all after three drinks consumed over close to three hours. Unfortunately, we have no way to prove, outside of BAC, just how impaired someone is (though driving behavior can be a good, albeit subjective, measure).
While we are certainly supporters of deterring or eliminating drunk driving in our state and across the nation, revamping DUI laws may not be the answer that people are looking for.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta, please call our office. We have years of experience defending people in situations like yours and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. The team at Hawkins Spizman Kilgo is here for you.