NHTSA Pushes for .08% BAC

As expected, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a major propaganda campaign to "encourage" the states to drop their Blood Alcohol Content standard for automatic DWI conviction to .08%.

A little historical perspective is in order.

Prior to the current campaign against drinking and driving, most states held BAC standards that corresponded with levels of impairment that were evidenced by vehicle operators who were involved in drunk driving accidents. Typically that meant BAC standards of.15%.

Subsequently, the combination of anti-drunk driving campaigns, judicial expediency, and anti-alcohol interests reduced the legal BAC to .1%, in most states. However, the preponderance of DWI arrests and serious alcohol-related accidents still involve BAC's of .15 and above. (Sweden has a legal BAC of.02%, but the average BAC of arrested drunk drivers is .17%.)

Contrary to the deluge of innuendo, implication, and pseudo statistics, there is no evidence proving the contention that persons with low BAC's cause accidents out of proportion to their share of the driving population. Five states already have BAC's of .08% and, one of those, Utah, will be considering legislation to drop it to .04%. A number of states have passed, or will pass, BAC standards of .00 to .02% for persons under the age of 21.

Extremely low BAC standards have little relationship to traffic safety concerns. They do give unfettered discretion to law enforcement agencies, expedite judicial proceedings, economically damage hospitality related industries provide insurance companies new surcharge opportunities, temporarily appease the neo-prohibition movement.

Source: March/April 1993 NMA News

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