One-drink limit: Feds pushing for lower DUI standards

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Members of the National Transportation Safety Board are lobbying Virginia and other states to reduce the threshold for drunk driving to 0.05 from the current national standard of 0.08.

NTSB member Mark Rosekind made the pitch again Wednesday in New England, at a conference moderated by the area's American Automobile Association. Rosekind make a similar presentation to Hampton Roads police officers at a Virginia Beach conference earlier this year.

Supporters say the tougher standard will save lives, but critics say it will turn casual and responsible drinkers into jailed criminals.

"If you are impaired and behind the wheel, you should not be driving," said attorney Mike Goodove, of the Southside chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

At a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05, said Goodove, "You're a danger."

But a restaurant trade group said this would result in arrests for people who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

"It would essentially make it impossible for women to drink anything with their meals and feel comfortable driving home," said Sarah Longwell of the American Beverage Institute.

Online BAC calculators show a 120-pound woman drinking two glasses of wine in an hour would register around 0.07. That's below the state's current limit, but well above the proposed limit. The calculators show a woman's BAC climbs quicker than a man's even if they are the same size.

"This would be devastating to the restaurant industry," Longwell said, "because it would preclude people from feeling comfortable having a single glass of wine with their dinner."

Goodove said this will be a tough sell to state lawmakers, but he says tougher laws are needed to end drunk driving.

"Do we want impaired individuals out driving on our streets, injuring not only themselves, but others?" he said.

After a year of lobbying, the NTSB has found a mixed reception. Several advocacy groups like the national offices of AAA and MADD have not adopted the NTSB's recommendations.


  • CC

    So which is more important, helping the restaurant business sell more drinks with dinner, or keeping potential
    drunk drivers off of the road? I vote for the latter…

    • Will

      Being a .05 is NOT drunk. This is ridiculous. And frankly it wont stop anything either. When people are in fact too drunk to drive, thats when they think they’re not too drunk to drive and do it anyway. Remember, when you’re actually drunk, thats when your judgement is impaired. How about doing something to actually SOLVE the problem, rather than jail more people, such as legalizing alternatives to taxi’s such as Uber & Lyft and other startups that can provide cheaper (or better, free) rides home to people that are in fact intoxicated? If they didn’t have to worry about two-way taxi’s rides and such I bet a hell of a lot more people would stay in a passenger seat rather than behind the wheel. Use some logic.

    • Gederix (@Gederix)

      How could you possibly believe this law would eliminate drinking and driving? It will only do what was mentioned in the article, make criminals out of pretty much anyone who has a drink with dinner and drives home. Just more idiotic thinking by simple-minded people. Is the prison lobby behind this or something?

    • Chris

      Ohh give me a break. Alcohol doesn’t affect everyone the same. Even at .08 it doesn’t impair most people. Let’s quit trying to bust people who haven’t done anything. Let’s arrest peopled based on actual harm instead of the COULD based nonsense people believe in. So many things have to happen for a drunk driver to actually cause a problem. No one will argue that people should be drunk, but open container laws and many other alcohol laws are just silly. People are going to die no matter what. More people die from other things all the time. I’d rather have the ability to do something than to be told I can’t do it because I can’t be trusted….if I actually cause a problem…then I should go to jail.

      • Charles Hickman

        “Let’s arrest peopled based on actual harm” – Seriously? Wait till after the driver has run over someone or crashed into a car carrying a family? A person with an .08 blood alcohol concentration is definitely impaired, and is a danger to people on the road. There was a time when people had that attitude, and there was much carnage on the roads because of it. People vastly overestimate their ability to drive with alcohol in their system. In some European countries the limit is .02, and .05 is common. .08 is quite high, actually. And you’re perfectly right about Uber and Lyft, and taxis. More public transportation would also make sense. It’s not an either-or proposition: have alternatives available, but outlaw people who drive impaired.

  • Eric Martin

    0.10 was enough. The people that hare damaging lives and property are significantly above that limit. This is a revenue generation tactic. There is zero concern for public safety in this proposal.

    • Bill Johnston

      Next time there is a Fourth Amendment-violating, so-called “Sobriety Checkpoint” in your area, try and get the numbers of arrests for drugs, expired driver’s license, failure to carry Insurance, expired license tags, outstanding warrants, etc. etc. versus the actual numbers of arrests for DWI/DUI. You will be amazed how the cops are getting away with pulling everyone on a given road over and demanding to check out everything like in Nazi Germany without due cause. Kiss your Constitutional rights goodbye….you remember that thing all us Vets took an oath to uphold ?

  • Philip

    If they quit giving DUI offenders breaks. Start by taking their license and their car at their first offense. I mean, if you get caught illegally hunting/fishing, they can take your car/boat/equipment.

  • Matt

    .05 is ridiculous. As more and more craft breweries are offering higher alcohol content brews, even the casual beer enthusiast is in danger of getting a live changing charge. The responsible people abide by the current standard, why would a stricter standard create a revelation in the non responsible ones to drink less?

  • Wastrel

    The reason given for this proposed change is that it will “save lives.” Whenever someone says that, it is a lie.

  • Carl David Pflanzer

    This will put the bars, restaurant, taverns and others out of business…now that is pitiful…I guess I’ll settle for a shot of Fireball!

  • mickrussom

    Pure police state revenue generating bull. These pigs need funds doe pensions as they help deny us our constitutional rights and let our corrupt government do whatever. 0.1 was fine, most all the people who drive drunk and kill or cause accidents are repeat offenders who Drive at .2-.3, etc.

    This is a money extortion scheme by goons

    • Bill Johnston

      Yep, and notoriously inaccurate breathalyzers have made more than one person’s life a living hell. Especially when the corrupt revenue-seeking locals alter them to read high just like they play with yellow light intervals at Red Light Cameras. Just don’t use mouthwash prior to driving.

  • Wally

    Just as there people who are impaired at 0.02%, there are those who aren’t at 0.15% The previous limit of 0.10% was low enough — and even then there were plenty of UNimpaired drivers who had the misfortune of blowing above the arbitrary limit and paid an expensive cost.

  • Eric Pierce

    So in 7 or 8 years can we expect the limit to be .03? We have bigger problems on the the road right now. We need to crack down on texting while driving, it has been shown to be worse then dui

  • Tired of Injustice in Hampton Roads

    One thing that will help keep drunk drivers off of the street is if they are actually convicted in court on their FIRST offense rather than letting them off with “reckless driving” so they can go out and do it again. There needs to be more scrutiny on the judges and courtrooms — particularly in Virginia Beach.

  • Bill Johnston

    Let’s outlaw something else that causes more deaths and injuries than a ridiculous .05% would ever begin to….outlaw distracted driving like texting and hand-held cell phone use.

    • Interlock Specialist

      I suggest we crack down on *both* – there’s no need to choose between them. Most countries outlaw texting and driving *and* driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .05. Why must people make it an either/or proposition? Strong anti-DUI enforcement has lowered the rate of alcohol-related crashes. Anti-texting laws are also a great idea.

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