Will Missouri follow recommendation to lower alcohol blood content?

A lot of discussion has taken place in the weeks since the National Transportation Safety Board made the recommendation to states that the legal limit for blood alcohol content of 0.08 should be lowered to 0.05. According to NTSB, lowering the legal limit could save as many as 1,000 lives from alcohol related car accidents, NBC News reports. That does not take into account the thousands of people who may also be spared injuries.

Many countries have a BAC of 0.05 and have reported corresponding drops in traffic crash fatalities involving alcohol as a result. However, at least one group, the American Beverage Institute, has come out vocally against the NTSB recommendation, saying that changing the BAC would have no effect on people who often drive with a BAC of 0.15 or more. When the NTSB made the recommendation in the 1980's to lower the BAC to 0.08, it took states 21 years to follow it.

Missouri and drunk driving

Missouri did not lower the BAC to 0.08 until 2001, according to the Kansas City Star; prior to the change, the legal limit was set at 0.10. The state is said to have one of the most lenient set of alcohol laws in comparison with other states. For example, in Missouri, passengers are allowed to drink alcohol in a moving vehicle.

However, the state has been passing laws in recent years that make it harder on people who choose to drink and drive:

  • Anyone convicted of drunk driving will be required to use an ignition interlock, which locks the engine from starting if alcohol is found on the person's breath, later this year.
  • Convicted DUI offenders and repeat DUI offenders are being handed stiffer jail sentences if their BAC is 0.15 or more.
  • BAC testing is required for all drivers in a car accident with serious injury.
  • Felony charge if a driver has multiple DUI convictions.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that 33 percent of all accident fatalities in Missouri are related to alcohol and so far 258 people have died in the past year in drunk driving accidents; the number of people injured is unknown.

The price of a human life

A number of people in Kansas City are against lowering the state BAC despite the city's local ordinance of 0.05. The alignment of the state standard with the local ordinance would allow for easier enforcement. Some of those opposed said that such a move would lower business for local bars and prevent people from even enjoying a single drink, according to The Kansas City Star. One bar owner even went so far as to say that taking communion would be impossible if the BAC is lowered. However, it should be pointed out that the purpose of lowering the legal limit is to save lives.

The NTSB points out that studies reveal many people start having problems with perception at 0.05, making them already impaired. The agency also points out that many people are killed or injured in accidents caused by people whose BAC is under the 0.08 limit. Given all of the evidence, it seems that lowering the BAC may reduce the number of people involved in drunk-driving accidents.

If you have been in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney for help in seeking compensation.