Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) came out with a shocking recommendation for every state in the county to lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from .08 percent to .05. This push for change was originally met with considerable controversy. Still, the NTSB – as well as other prominent anti-DUI organizations – is continuing its fight to have the BAC limit lowered.
In Washington, alcohol plays a role in a number of auto accidents, roughly 500 to 600 injuries, and between 250 to 300 fatalities each year, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The dangers of drunk driving, of course, are well known and are the strongest force behind these types of anti-DUI efforts. We should take steps to reduce risks of preventable accidents – there is nothing wrong with that.
What is concerning, however, is the fact that lowering the DUI limit fails in many respects to consider scientific evidence of impairment and to consider what impact – if any – it may have. For one, many in the scientific community believe that .05% BAC is a level at which individuals are still well in control of their mental and motor functions. Additionally, many raise arguments that lowering the legal limit will do little to deter drivers who already drive beyond legal BAC levels. The problem of arresting many more individuals, processing them through the criminal justice system, and putting them behind bars is also a concern for those against lowering the legal limit.
While opponents are steadfast in their arguments, supporters of lowering the limit have noted that many European countries, South American countries, and Australia have a .05 BAC limit. After the change, Australia reported decreases in auto accidents related to alcohol.
Aside from the national argument on this issue, the state of Washington has much to consider about DUI enforcement. Regardless of whether policymakers choose to lower the limit, it is clear that state lawmakers are already heavily focused on arresting, prosecuting, and convicting individuals suspected of driving under the influence. Just this year, a DUI reform package was passed in Washington, subjecting individuals convicted of DUIs to harsher penalties and consequences, including longer sentences and installation of ignition interlock devices. A bill for lowering the limit is expected to make its way through the legislature next year. Governor Jay Inslee has stated that he is not opposed to such a change.
As they stand, Washington DUI laws are still incredibly strict. Only time will tell if lowering the legal limit will make these laws even more intolerant. If you or your loved one stands accused of DUI today, you can find the experienced representation you need by working with a Lynnwood DUI lawyer from Dichter Law Office, PLLC. Call (425) 296-9358. We serve residents of Snohomish County, King County, and the surrounding areas.