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Consequences of Lowering the BAC Limit

Posted on in Criminal Law

Consequences of Lowering the BAC LimitStates will be closely watching the effects of a new Utah law that will lower its blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.05 starting Dec. 30. Utah is the first state to set a BAC limit that is below 0.08, which has been the limit in all states for several years. There is a global precedent for the limit, with about 100 countries having a BAC limit of 0.05 or lower. Other states may follow Utah’s lead if the law corresponds with a decrease in alcohol-related traffic deaths. Critics argue that lowering the BAC limit will do more to increase the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol than it will save lives.

Inexact Science

It is already debatable as to whether the 0.08 BAC limit accurately measures whether a driver is intoxicated. The limit attempts to quantify how much alcohol it takes to impair someone’s driving ability. Different people have different tolerances to alcohol, and not everyone will be impaired with a BAC of 0.08, let alone 0.05. People with a higher alcohol tolerance may show no signs of driving impairment with a BAC of 0.08, which helps them avoid suspicion and arrest. However, police officers may stop and question these drivers for reasons other than showing signs of impairment, such as:

  • Minor traffic violations;
  • Vehicle equipment malfunctions;
  • Sobriety checkpoints; and
  • Traffic accidents caused by another party.

A 0.05 BAC limit makes it more likely that an unimpaired driver will be arrested for DUI.

Safety Debate

Proponents of the 0.05 BAC limit cite studies that claim that lowering the limit causes a significant reduction in DUI fatalities. Opponents argue that most DUI fatalities involve a driver who was well above the 0.08 BAC limit. Lowering the BAC limit theoretically influences people’s decisions to drive while intoxicated. A person who has had drinks at dinner may not want to risk a DUI arrest with such a low BAC limit. However, a new limit will not change the behavior of intoxicated people who choose to drive despite the current law. The people most affected by a lower BAC limit will be responsible drinkers who are not impaired but have been made into criminals by a new law.

Contact a Crystal Lake DUI Defense Attorney

Police often use subjective evidence as a reason to pull you over for a DUI stop and arrest you. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can contest an unfair DUI charge against you. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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