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Should New York’s drunk driving limit be lowered to .05?

Many New York residents have likely heard that the National Transportation Safety Board issued a pretty controversial recommendation regarding drunk driving laws last week. The federal agency wants all 50 states to lower the legal blood-alcohol content limit to .05 percent–meaning that a man of average weight could possibly be arrested for a DWI after drinking just over three glasses of wine. A 130-pound woman may drink only two glasses of wine before her blood-alcohol content hits .05 percent, according to the New York Times.

The recommendation is controversial because it seems to penalize social drinkers. Many New York residents probably feel that they are perfectly safe to drive after two to three glasses of wine. However, the NTSB seems to think it is irresponsible to do so and that it should be a crime.

Of course, the NTSB, like pretty much everyone else, finds that it is important to prevent drunk driving accidents, but whether the way to do that is to target social drinkers is debatable.

In addition to lowering the blood-alcohol content limit, the NTSB also wants all convicted drunk drivers to install breath alcohol ignition interlock devices into their vehicles. Ignition interlocks prevent vehicles from starting if the driver can’t pass an in-car breath test.

Whether any states will follow the NTSB’s lead and adapt the ignition interlock policy or lower their legal limits to .05 percent remains to be seen. The NTSB has no authority to change state laws itself, but can only make recommendations. Back in the early 2000s, Congress linked federal highway funding to the .08 BAC and that is how all of the states came to adopt that standard.

New York is already very tough on drunk driving. Those who face drunk driving charges are often wise to seek criminal defense counsel in order to help ensure that their cases are resolved in the most favorable way possible.

Source: The Atlantic, “Even MADD Doesn’t Just Want to Drop the Legal Limit for Drunk Driving,” Connor Simpson, May 14, 2013