NTSB Urges States to Lower Legal Limit from .08 to .05

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended today that all 50 states lower the legal limit for alcohol intake before driving from .08 to .05. The agency says the change would save 500-800 additional lives per year. In 2004, the last state adopted the .08 standard, compared with the 1980s when the limit was around .15. Organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) have played a large role in the past decades in pushing for lower alcohol limits while driving.

In 1980, there were an estimated 20,000 alcohol related deaths on the road. In 2011, that number was cut in half, to slightly less than 10,000. Still, the NTSB figures cite that 1 in 3 of all fatal highway accidents involve alcohol impairment.

Among other recommendations by the NTSB were that all states adopt license suspension laws immediately upon arrest of a DUI offender. Also, the agency discussed ignition interlock and passive alcohol monitoring systems for vehicles, especially those with convicted DUI offenders behind the wheel.

Does the .05 standard make sense? What do you think? According to the data, a typical 180 pound male can consume around 4 drinks in an hour before reaching the .08 standard. A .05 would take only 2-3 drinks to reach. Of course, there are many factors that determine someone's blood alcohol content, and everyone's formula varies. Generally, less alcohol also gets women to a higher BAC, due to a generally higher fat content per pound of body weight.

Do you feel safe after 2-3 drinks? How about 4-5 drinks? What factors do you look at before you decide to drive or not?

Please comment. This endorsement by the NTSB will surely spawn debates for months and even years to come.

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