It has recently been proposed that the legal blood alcohol limit in the United States for driving be lowered to a .05 from a .08. All 50 states now adhere to the .08 BA level. This would be a radical downward departure from the previous level of .08. How much of this push to lower the legal blood alcohol level is political and how much is scientific is up for debate. A .05 is essentially telling the public that you cannot drink anything at all and drive. Two drinks at dinner could put a driver over the legal limit. Are we prepared as a nation to say if you share a bottle of wine at dinner you cannot drive home? The alcohol beverage lobby is actively fighting against this proposal. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) supports all legislation that increase the penalties for DUI driving and the lowering of the limit to .05.
Experts will opine that the research in the area of alcohol intoxication while driving is what is pushing the limits lower. However, how many of these experts are truly objective? I question how many of these experts work on behalf of political groups or law enforcement agencies? The push to lower the legal limit to a .05 is not unique to the United States. In fact, many other countries have already done it.
Most European countries have very harsh penalties for driving under the influence. For example, while France is known for it’s wines and often is associated with the spirits and love of the fruit of the vine it takes a very dim view of driving over a .05 BA. Mixing spirits with driving is definitely frowned upon. France requires that every vehicle carry a breathalyzer. In order to legally drive in France a breathalyzer must be present in the vehicle. While in England recently, I purchased a small disposable breathalyzer that would satisfy this requirement in France. It was a single use vial designed to alert the driver when he was over the French legal limit of .05.
One thing is clear from this ongoing controversy. The DUI laws in the United States are continuing to evolve resulting in lower limits for the blood alcohol levels determined to be legal. In addition, we can expect the penalties associated with DUI will continue to be more and more draconian.