Early this year, Utah passed a state law recommending that BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) be lowered from 0.08 to 0.05. This law, which has been part of a running debate since 2013, comes on the heels of a proposal made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
While almost half Utah state residents oppose the law and are working toward an appeal, several other states are considering lowering BAC.
“There are two sides to this debate,” says James Johnson, ESQ, founder and head attorney of Johnson Attorneys Group, a personal injury law firm, adding that “Some just don’t feel it will change much at all, and that it’s the wrong strategy. In fact, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), recently said the focus should be elsewhere, such as high visibility DUI enforcement.”
He continued: “ Others say the current BAC number is not in alignment with current research and should, therefore, be lowered.”
The one thing we can all agree on is that everyone wants highway safety. Every day, 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes; that’s about one person every 50 minutes. While alcohol-related fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades, these crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. The cost of deaths and damages falls to somewhere around $40B per year. The most recent data available is from 2010, and then it was $44B per year.
WHAT IS BAC?
The BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, measures the amount of alcohol in your blood. It measures the percent of your blood that is now made up of alcohol; for example, if you have a BAC of .10, it means that .1 percent of your blood is alcohol
LEGAL LEVELS OF BAC AND IMPAIRMENT
A doesn’t need a BAC of 0.08. Even a BAC of 0.02 results in some loss of judgment ald slower reaction time. Hand-eye coordination may also be reduced in certain people when the BAC is only 0.04 percent.
The effects get more severe at the BAC climbs and, by 0.05, reflexes get even slower and there’s a lack of coordination that also results in difficulty steering as well as:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Loss of balance
- Poor muscle coordination
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Impaired reasoning
- Lack of self-control
- Difficulty in detecting danger or dangerous situations
CONSEQUENCES OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
“Of course, the worst consequences of driving under the influence are getting into a car accident that results in personal injury to another person,” said Johnson. “ Law enforcement is certain to use BAC, whether you are the defendant or the plaintiff.”
He added: “It can be a complicated procedure because, while anyone with a BAC of 0.08 will certainly be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, someone will still be liable to arrest even if the BAC is 0.01 but the person looks and acts impaired.”
Know the facts about BAC and exercise caution; some people won’t even drive after having one drink. Understanding BAC will be vital to your chances in court, no matter which side you’re on.