Currently, .08% BAC is the national illegal limit for drunk drivers. This limit was the result of a recommendation by NHTSA which was brought to Congress in 2000.
The reason NHTSA recommended the .08% BAC is because studies showed that nearly all drivers, even those who are very experienced drivers, are significantly impaired to drive when their blood alcohol level is at .08%.
NHTSA subsequently published several studies on the effectiveness of the .08 BAC law. They found persuasive evidence that the .08 BAC DUI laws resulted in less alcohol-related fatal crashes. NHTSA now recommends lowering the legal limit again because they believe it will save even more lives. This belief is supported by many studies which show that show that impairment begins as low as .05% BAC.
Drunk driving is not only dangerous, but is treated as a very serious crime by many lawmakers. NHTSA board Chairman, Deborah Hersman, points out that “Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented.” California prosecutors strongly agree. In fact, a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes an accident that results in the death of another person, can be charged with murder. If that person has a prior conviction for Wet Reckless or DUI, they will be charged with murder under the Watson advisement which is a warning given at the time of sentencing.
Will California adopt the new DUI law reducing the BAC limit from .08 to .05? It seems likely. There has been an international trend over more than a decade to reduce the illegal per se limits to .05% or lower. Numerous countries including, but not limited to, Australia, Germany, France, and Israel, all have legal limits of .05% or lower. Russia, Sweden, and Norway have BAC limits of .02% BAC. In a report to CNN, Robert Malloy, of the National Traffic and Safety board stated that the .05 legal limit is going to come. He just doesn’t know how long it will take.
This blog was written by attorney Debra S. White. Ms. White is a criminal DUI defense lawyer located in Los Angeles, California. To contact Ms. White for a free initial consultation, call: 1-866-663-7778.