WASHINGTON (NBC) – The National Transportation Safety Board voted to recommend to states that they lower the blood-alcohol content that constitutes drunken driving.
Currently, all 50 states have set a BAC level of .08, reflecting the percentage of alcohol, by volume, in the blood. If a driver is found to have a BAC level of .08 or above, he or she is subject to arrest and prosecution.
The National Transportation Safety Board is advising states to lower the Blood Alcohol Level that defines drunk driving from .08 to .05, which they say is the level at which many drivers' vision can be affected. NBC's Tom Costello reports.
The NTSB recommends dropping that to a BAC level of .05.
Each year, nearly 10,000 people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents and 170,000 are injured, according to the NTSB. While that's a big improvement from the 20,000 who died in alcohol-related accidents 30 years ago, it remains a consistent threat to public safety.
Studies show that each year, roughly 4 million people admit to driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The recommendation prompted immediate criticism from restaurant trade groups.
"This recommendation is ludicrous," said Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute. "Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.
"Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel."
The United States, Canada and Iraq are among a small handful of countries that have set the BAC level at .08. Most countries in Europe, including Russia, most of South America and Australia, have set BAC levels at .05 to constitute drunken driving.
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