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Can stricter DUI laws cause fewer car wrecks?

Alcohol-related car wrecks can be very serious and sometimes fatal. In pursuit of lowering deaths caused by those who are driving under the influence (DUI), some people want to place heavier restrictions on drivers’ blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

For example, Utah recently became the first state to implement a BAC legal limit of 0.05 percent on drivers. The law went into effect the day before New Year’s Eve, which was likely not coincidental considering the high number of DUIs on that night.

Changes in consumption

As an example of how the BAC change impacts drinkers, a man weighing 180 pounds could previously consume four drinks to reach the legal BAC limit of 0.08 percent. Now, that same man would only need about half as many drinks to be legally impaired. For women, it is likely to be even fewer drinks.

While some critics argue the law is more likely to target casual or social drinkers instead of “legitimately drunk drivers,” it could lead many drivers to pause and reconsider further drinks. The gray area of thinking you can drive but finding out when you’re behind the wheel that you’re feeling a little “buzzed” is covered under this law.

Safety recommendations

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requested the bill in Utah, which is part of its effort to urge states to lower DUI limits. NTSB released a report with recommended safety improvements for American transportation and recommended the 0.05 percent limit.

It will be interesting to see if Utah’s law makes a difference in drunk driving-related wrecks in the state and if other states like Mississippi consider similar legislation.

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Law Office of George B. Ready
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Hernando, MS 38632

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