Could the blood alcohol level be lowered to .05%?


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Could the blood alcohol level be lowered to .05%?

Alcohol Level Lowered to 05

The alcohol level, above which you are presumed to be impaired, in all 50 states, is .08%., but could the blood alcohol level be lowered to .05%? In my experience in trial handling DUI cases,  it’s not uncommon for the prosecution’s expert to give an opinion at DUI trials that, even if the person was at or above a .08%, the real limit at which people are intoxicated is actually a .05%.

A published scientific paper, “Alcohol Limits and Public Safety, published in the Forensic Science Review in 2014 (The citation is Canfield DV, Dubowski KM, Cowan M, Harding PM: Alcohol limits and public safety; Forensic Sci Rev 26:9; 2014., if you’re interested) addressed that issue.

The paper took a look at the action by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in May, 2014, to recommend lowering the legal limit for DUI to a .05% blood alcohol level.  That recommendation was just that, but it prompted other agencies to see whether they recommended the same, joined in the recommendation, or found no support for that recommendation.

The authors, in particular Dr. Canfield, and Dr. Dubowski, are well known within the forensic alcohol literature as truly experts in their field.  Their opinions carry much weight.

In reviewing 93 other scientific papers and studies, the authors concluded that impairment can, indeed, take place at a lower level than a .08%, and that tests that are commonly used in law enforcement today are effective at detecting and analyzing alcohol limits such as 0.05 or lower and are considered forensically acceptable.  Breath testing is the best way to determine alcohol level, according to the paper.

“Based on a review of the literature and personal experience, it is clear that breath-alcohol testing must be included in all laws regarding per se alcohol-concentration limits.”

The study notes that the scientific literature establishes with a high degree of scientific certainty the increased crash risk associated with accidents at different concentrations of alcohol and this needs to be the final deciding factor when establishing a per se legal alcohol limit. The ultimate goal of a per se alcohol limit is public safety and the reduction of deaths and injuries known to be associated with increasing alcohol concentrations. Considering the published literature, one must conclude that a minimum of 2,000 lives will likely be saved per year in the United States if the alcohol limit is lowered to 0.05, according to the study’s authors.

So could the blood alcohol level be lowered to .05%?”When asked the question at what alcohol concentration is it safe to drive, the answer must be no alcohol concentration, and that is why many countries have adopted zero-alcohol-limit laws for drivers.  Furthermore, many US states already have zero-alcohol-limit laws for teenage drivers. The degree of impairment of an individual is an elusive and largely subjective assessment.”

If you have questions for our Orange County DUI Defense Attorneys, contact us at the firm or at the number on the top of the page.  We are happy to answer your questions about blood alcohol levels.


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