Operating a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol is risky behavior.Even a small amount of alcohol can make someone an unsafe driver because it is a depressant that affects vision, coordination, reaction time, and judgment. Kentucky has strict laws for drunk driving, and a person is considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than 0.08. A DWI/DUI conviction can carry a mandatory jail sentence, fines, and a license suspension.
Such penalties don’t matter much to the families whose lives are torn apart by the selfish actions of a drunk driver.Founded in 1980 to support the victims of drunk driving, the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that the average intoxicated driver has driven drunk 80 times before he or she is arrested for the first time and that one-half to three-quarters of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive after their license is suspended. More than 29 million people admitted in 2012 to having driven while under the influence of alcohol. On the flip side, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime. In 2012, an average of one life was lost approximately every 51 minutes because of drunk driving.
New Report Suggests Lowering DUI Limits Can Make Roads SaferThe National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) published a report in January 2018 which strongly recommends that all 50 states lower the current universal standard of .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to .05. The report, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites research which reveals that the average person’s ability to operate any motor vehicle begins to deteriorate at even lower BAC levels than the current .08 standard; thereby raising the odds that a drunk driver might cause an accident.
The debate over lowering the BAC to a universal .05 has raged since the NHTSA made the same suggestion in 2012. Many say it’s a good idea and will lower drunk-driving fatalities, but a great many also question the hypothesis.
This debate has existed even longer in Canada. And a growing number of naysayers make some good points. These critics question whether the real objective of creating a new, lower universal standard of intoxication of .05 BAC is to create more justification for early intervention. And they wonder whether the strategic goal is actually zero tolerance laws, to keep every driver who has a drink – but falls short of .05 – from being on the road at all.
NHTSA fatality statistics tell us that 29 people die every day in drunk driving crashes (more than 10,000 deaths each year). And Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reveals that each day around 300,000 Americans drive drunk (0.8 or higher); but only about 1.3 percent (4,000), are arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). Given the woefully low enforcement percentage at the current 0.8 limit, is it reasonable to expect a lowered 0.5 limit to succeed at getting more drunk drivers off the road?
The NASEM’s report offers some other more practical suggestions that, if incorporated, could help to curb DUIs. One advocates more aggressive use of ignition interlock devices. The Academies’ authors point to the success in the U.S. and other countries where those convicted of alcohol-impaired driving are ordered to have breathalyzer-ignition interlocks on their vehicles. Years of data proves they are much less likely to be rearrested for alcohol-related driving or to have an accident, and could be even more successful when combined with BAC levels less than .05.
Another suggestion – even though it would take years to fully incorporate – is a variation on the interlock suggestion. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) partnership between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety is developing noninvasive, in-vehicle technologies to prevent drivers from operating their vehicles if they have a BAC that exceeds the limit set by any state’s law. The Academies urge the NHTSA to make DADSS mandatory in all new vehicles when the cost approaches that of other existing automobile safety features and they are proven effective, What all of this means today is that the lower BAC limit of .05 in and of itself will not make roads safer. But the programs and technology that spring from these multiple efforts to lower the BAC limit certainly might.
Drunk Driving Accidents in KYJust in our state in the year 2012, more than 23,000 arrests for driving under the influence were made. There were 4,671 alcohol-related collisions reported that year, of which 3 percent were fatal, 35 percent involved injuries, and 62 percent caused property damage only. That 3 percent translated to 168 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, and almost 75 percent of those drivers had a high blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more – almost twice the legal limit. Alcohol-related collisions in Kentucky increased slightly in 2012 from the prior year.
If you have any questions about this topic or if you or a loved one was injured by a drunk driver, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. We are ready to provide you with a free and confidential initial consultation. Contact us by calling 1-855-997-8980 or through our online form.