Could the legal limit be changed to .05?
For Irvine DUI cases, or anywhere in California, the legal limit currently is a .08%. That is, if you are driving above a .08%, you are presumed to be impaired or under the influence.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently recommending that people who have a blood-alcohol level of .05, or higher, should be considered to be drunk while driving.
Over the years, the legal limit has changed – from a .15% early last century, to a .10%, to finally, in 2000, a .08% legal limit. But the NTSB says part of its mission is to prevent accidents–and that includes planes, trains and automobiles. Because DUIs are one of the largest causes of highway accidents and fatalities, the NTSB wants to drop the recommended legal blood alcohol content, or BAC, from .08 to .05.
“Ultimately .05 means there’s going to be less alcohol on the roads. And if we have less alcohol on the roads, we’re all going to be safer,”
says NTSB representative Bella Dinh Zarr. Most states take their cue from the National Highway Safety Administration at .08. Federal Funding for highways is available only to states that accept a .08% level.
The Federal Department of Transportation can require states to accept a lower limit, as they did in 2000 with the .08%. However, funding moves are highly political and usually tend to occur near an election.
Studies show that the millennial generation, and younger generations, tend towards being very risk adverse. There are articles describing this trend both financially and socially. They want to make their world safe. (Including safe spaces on campus and elsewhere). Lowering the legal limit is promoted as saving lives and making the world safer. So as more of these people vote, and influence government, the 0.05 per se is coming and is likely to pass. Also, dropping the per se limit will double the number of DUI arrests in Orange County, and elsewhere, and that’s a lot more money coming in to fund law enforcement and all the industry that lives on the DUI justice machine in the form of fees, fines, alcohol schools, and insurance, including Orange County DUI Attorneys.
There has been an 80% drop in the incidence of driving over 0.08% since 1973, according to the 2013/2014 National Roadside Survey.
Could the legal limit be changed to .05? Would it help stop DUI?
What our law firm’s Orange County DUI attorney is curious about is what will happen to the common law “under the influence counts” when the per se limit drops. Will the legislatures revise or eliminate the presumptions? Right now in California, there is a gap in the presumptions. Under 0.05 you are presumed not under the influence. Over 0.08 you are presumed under the influence. In between, there is no presumption. What happens when the per se law drops? What is happening now as the NTSB and others are lobbying for the change?
Prosecutors, and their expert witnesses – the criminalists, often like to talk about “impairment” and confuse it with “intoxication” or “under the influence.”
Our Orange County DUI lawyer defines “impairment” as any statistically significant negative change from normal, and the scientific articles do too. But too many people read “significant” in the lay sense of “substantial” rather than the scientific sense of “not caused by random chance” when they quote from these articles. There can be a big difference between when something is “significant” in the mathematical sense and when something is “significant” in the “should I care about this” sense.
“Under the Influence” is a legal term of art that means, at least to many of the best Orange County DUI lawyers, that the impairment has risen to a level where it is no longer permissible to drive due to the increased risk of accident, and legal sanction should be applied to discourage this behavior. So in my mind, some impairment is allowable. We don’t always go out on the roads at our best. Sometimes we are tired, sometimes we are sick, sometimes we are distracted. That adds a certain amount of risk to the act of driving. We eat, drink, dial our cell phones, pet the dog, talk to the kids. That adds a certain amount of risk. We accept that. When someone has a little bit of impairment from alcohol, from typical social drinking, the impairment is of the same magnitude, or less, as some of these other normal risk factors. What is too much risk?
If everyone is “impaired” at 0.05, all they are saying is that there is an effect that can be distinguished from sober. If everyone is so impaired as to be incapable of driving safely, then they are saying something different, that everyone is “Under the Influence” at 0.05. And I want to understand how they define that, and how they justify that.
Our DUI Lawyer Orange County is also trying to understand whether this is scientifically sound, and on what basis. And some of that will require a clear definition of the terms and the criteria for being “under the Influence” in the legal sense, and according to these “scientists.”
When someone is too impaired to drive is to our DUI attorney Orange County more of a legal than scientific question. Many of the best DUI lawyers Orange County don’t believe there is a scientific definition of unsafe. It is up to society to decide the legal threshold of risk they are willing to tolerate. Scientifically, all we can do is quantify the risk and the extent of alcohol’s effects. Science is a method of investigation.
Could the legal limit be changed to .05? One can explain a rationale for the 0.08 law, based on a number of crash risk studies, culpability studies, simulated driving, and laboratory studies of complex reaction time, divided attention skills and the like involved in driving. In other words, there are studies, and scientific consensus, towards that limit. Whether it gets reduced remains to be seen.