NTSB: .08 BAC too high, recommend states lower the level - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

NTSB: .08 BAC too high, recommend states lower the level

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - With a unanimous vote, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states lower their legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level from .08 to .05.

Currently, all 50 states have a BAC level of .08.

"Impairment starts with the first drink," Debbie Hersman with the NTSB said. "By .05, most drivers experience diminished visual function, increased drowsiness and reduced vigilance."

On average, 10,000 people are killed every year in alcohol related collisions. The federal agency explained that by lowering the legal level, as many as 800 lives would be saved each year in the U.S.

"I don't think people need to have any alcohol then be behind the wheel," Region 8 Resident, Philip Brunner told Region 8 News.

He said before the NTSB made their recommendation, he'd never considered whether a .08 BAC level was too high to begin with.

"It kind of surprised me how much you could still drink and be under .05," Brunner said.

According to the Associated Press, a woman weighing 120 lbs or less could reach that limit with one drink. They said a man weighing 160 lbs or more could reach that threshold at two drinks.

"Even the causal drinkers should be aware that any amount of alcohol affects their ability to drive," Earl Barnett told Region 8 News.

However, the Managing Director of the Alcohol Beverage Institute disagrees that casual drinkers should be targeted. 

"This recommendation targets moderate social drinkers, it does not target the hardcore population that causes the vast majority of alcohol related fatalities," Sarah Longwell said.

Regardless of whether people agree or disagree with the NTSB's recommendation, Barnett feels most states will wind up complying.

"They'll force it on us as states by cutting off our federal funding," Barnett said. "It'll happen if they want it to happen."

The NTSB does not have the power to write or enforce new laws. 

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