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Debate continues: Should legal limit for drunk driving be lowered?

Drunk driving remains one of the most fatal road hazards in Chicago and around the country. In fact, about 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed each year in fatal car accidents caused by drunk driving.

Safety advocates and lawmakers have worked tirelessly to curb this dangerous behavior, but thus far the results have been limited at best. So what's the solution? According to a recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board in May of this year, reducing the threshold of legal intoxication would cut down on the number of drunk driving fatalities. By setting the legally drunk blood-alcohol threshold at 0.05 percent instead of the current 0.08 percent the NTSB says, between 500 and 1,000 lives could be saved each year.

This recommendation has proven to be controversial even among safety advocates and others who support strict enforcement of DUI laws. On the one hand, some people are definitely too impaired to drive safely when they have a blood-alcohol concentration of just 0.05 percent. Others, however, can reach this BAC after just a few drinks yet may be just fine to drive.

Critics of the recommendation also say that lowering the legal limit will do nothing to stop repeat DUI offenders, who often have a BAC significantly higher than 0.08 percent when they cause fatal crashes. Instead, lowering the limit may just criminalize more drivers who would not necessarily be a danger to others on the road.

The debate about drunk/impaired driving laws will likely remain controversial. What's important to remember, however, is that a driver with any amount of alcohol in their system is responsible for their actions in the event of a crash. 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a driver who had been drinking prior to the accident, you may be able to seek damages related to impaired driving, even if their BAC was not over the legal limit. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and options.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Push to lower legal limit of intoxication to 0.05 stirs debate" Ted Gregory, Sept. 1, 2013

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