How Much Is Too Much
by Chas Terry
Hello to Bob and all his readers from here in beautiful South Carolina.
It's a truly great place to live but sadly we have the nation’s highest
rate of traffic fatalities involving drunken drivers. To combat this
there's a movement here to lower the DUI threshold. The question
however that all the proponents of that change can't seem to give a
straight answer to is would that make a difference?
The National Transportation Safety Board thinks it would,since they
just approved a similar proposal to lower the blood-alcohol
concentration level at which a person is presumed to be impaired from
the current 0.08 to 0.05 or less. At that threshold, some people, and
particularly slender women, could have enough alcohol in their blood
to support a DUI charge after a single drink. For example only one
bottle of one of the high-alcohol craft beers available today, or an 8-
ounce glass of wine, and you could have a one-drink DUI.
Many of us however do not believe that lowering the limit would
reduce drunken driving, and even worse, such a low limit could result
in people who aren’t impaired being charged with DUI. The National
Transportation Safety Board says someone who has consumed
enough alcohol to register a 0.05 has a 38% greater chance of being
in a wreck. The board says action is needed to reduce alcohol-related
fatalities that persistently account for nearly a third of U.S. highway
deaths. What they don't say is exactly how that statistic was
created. For example, if a driver who has NOT had a single drink gets
into a fender bender accident while driving someone in the back seat
who has had a few drinks the accident is classified as "alcohol related".
That's a bit of a stretch.
The American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade group, says the
0.05 recommendation is “ludicrous.” Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would
criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,they said. The fact is that
most drivers involved in wrecks have either had nothing to drink, or
have consumed enough alcohol to put them far over the current legal
Nationwide, 64 % of fatal crashes yearly involved no drivers with
alcohol in their blood, and 31 % involved at least one driver with a level
high enough to be presumed impaired under current law. Most
impaired drivers had at least triple the blood-alcohol limit the NTSB now
endorses. In addition, the total number of fatal highway accidents has
been falling steadily for years.
To me it seems this lower threshold would criminalize behavior that is
completely responsible since it targets moderate and responsible social
drinkers. All of us would be better served if the focus was on repeat
offenders and people who are far past the 0.08 %threshold.
Some statistics show that the increased accident risk for .008 as
opposed to .005 is about the same as driving 5 mph over the speed
limit so why draconian penalties on the guy who has one or two beers
and not on speeders?
Needless to say everyone regardless of where you stand on this issue
should be totally against drunk driving. It is a terrible danger. The
question remains however when are you too impaired to safely drive?
I don't know the answer but I do think it should not be based on
guess work, inflated statistics, the need for town revenue, or other
Thanks to Chas for writing our June column. It's certainly one that will
likely cause some debate.
Please remember I encourage all my readers to send me their articles
and just maybe you'll see yours in print just like Chas!
|BeerNexus proudly presents
"the ombudsman of beer"
Bob and Friends Speak of Beer......
|Want to be a "friend of Bob" and write a guest
column? Just e-mail your article to Bob HERE.