Buying one too many drinks might get a little costlier for South Carolina motorists if a leading federal government safety entity gets its way. The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that the legal blood-alcohol content for drivers be lowered from .08 percent to .05 percent.

Nearly 10,000 deaths every year are related to alcohol-impaired driving. The NTSB says the lower standard could save between 500 and 800 lives every year. The United States wouldn’t be the first to lower the limit. Most countries in the industrialized world already have the lower standard.

Tougher Penalties, Technology

In addition to tightening the standard, the NTSB wants:

  • Increased penalties for first and repeat offenders.
  • Greater police use of technology, including a “sniffing flashlight,” to detect alcohol odors on suspected drunk drivers.
  • Accelerated research into devices that can detect when a driver has been drinking and prevent a car from starting.

Driving under the influence is responsible for nearly a third of all crash fatalities in the United States. NTSB suggests those deaths and the 170,000 yearly injuries add up to a cost of $66 billion every year.

The National Transportation Safety Board has no authority to change the standard but can only recommend that each state make the change. Currently, every state, including South Carolina, is at the .08 percent standard. It took more than two decades for states to lower the blood alcohol content level from .1 percent to .08 percent.

Restaurant owners and the hospitality industry have expressed concerns that lowering the standard to .05 would needlessly criminalize persons who are acting responsibly.

Our South Carolina car accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm urge drivers to act responsibly and refrain from drinking and driving.

If you are hurt in a traffic crash caused by a drunk driver, you need an attorney who will handle your case with respect and care. To learn about your right to compensation for medical expenses and other costs, contact our personal injury lawyers at Joye Law Firm today.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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