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NTSB pushes for lowering legal blood alcohol limit

Every day, an average of 29 individuals in New Jersey and across the United States die in a vehicular accident involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The financial cost of accidents that involve a drunk driver is estimated to be $44 million per year. Though most people believe that more action needs to occur in order to prevent drunk driving from occurring, there is much debate on the best course of action.

One idea is to lower the legal drinking limit. In December 2018, Utah will become the first state to lower the legal blood alcohol content limit from .08 to .05 percent. Some lawmakers in other states want to follow suit by lowering the BAC limit in order to decrease the number of alcohol-related car accidents. According to a survey done by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute, 55 percent of people in the United States support lowering the BAC from the standard limit of .08 to .05 percent.

The National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, has advocated lowering the BAC limit for years. Studies show that the risk of being in a fatal accident is seven times higher for drivers who had a BAC of .05 to .079 percent when compared to drivers with no alcohol in their system. The NTSB believes that lowering the legal limit in all states to .05 percent would save an average of 1,800 lives per year.

When an individual is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, the prosecutor is responsible for proving that a DUI or DWI occurred through the presentation of evidence. This is typically by providing a BAC that was above that legal limit or with the results of a field sobriety test. A common DUI or DWI defense is being arrested after failing a field sobriety test that isn't admissible in court. In this case, if a person was arrested after being administered a field sobriety test but a BAC test was not administered, the results of the test may not be admissible, and the charges may be reduced or dropped.

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