This December, Utah will become the first state in the country to reduce the legal limit for driving while intoxicated from .08 percent to .05 percent. The state's new law comes on the heels of a national poll conducted by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy. The study found that 54 percent of Americans support lowering the legal limit for DWI.
It appears that the state of Texas may be thinking about following Utah's lead. The Texas Medical Center Health Policy found that support for lowering the legal limit is as high as 60 percent. Many even support a limit of 0.0 percent.
Despite support for lowering the limit at which you're legally allowed to drive, there are many concerns about the new law as implemented in Utah that Texas should be aware of.
Lowering the Legal Limit Targets Responsible Drivers
Utah's law is intended to prevent and reduce alcohol-related accidents. However, many fear that lowering the legal blood alcohol concentration limit will unfairly target responsible drivers. Most people who drink know how alcohol affects them. They know when it's safe for them to get behind the wheel. For many, this may include times when their blood alcohol concentration is at or near .05 percent. Under the new law, drivers who are alert, attentive, and responsive -- despite a slightly elevated BAC -- may face criminal charges for their actions. Utah probably doesn't intend for its new law to catch safe rivers in its web, but it's certainly a possible result.
The Risk of an Accident At .05 Percent Is Limited
There's a huge difference between driving with a BAC of .05 percent and a BAC of .08 percent. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), you're about 50 percent less likely to be involved in an accident when you drive with a BAC of .05 percent, as compared to driving with a BAC of .08 percent. In fact, the vast majority of severe DWI accidents involve drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .15 and above. Reducing the legal limit will probably not do much to keep drivers with these significantly elevated BACs off the road.
Alcohol Effects Everyone Differently -- Likewise, the New Law May Impact Different Drivers Adversely
Lowering the legal limit may have unintentionally discriminatory consequences. It's a well-known fact that alcohol affects everyone differently. Age, weight, height, medical conditions, and the foods you've consumed can all influence how you metabolize alcohol. Your sex also plays a huge role in how you process alcohol. If men and women consume the same amount of alcohol, women are much more likely to have a higher BAC. The new law may detrimentally impact women more than men.
For example, a 170-pound man could consume two or three drinks in an hour before his blood alcohol concentration registered at .05 percent. A 125-pound woman, however, could probably only have one or two drinks before her blood alcohol concentration reached that same threshold. As a result, lowering the legal limit to .05 is likely to affect women adversely.
Always contact an attorney if you've been arrested on suspicion of DWI. At the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C., our Houston DWI defense lawyers are prepared to help you assert a strong defense. We'll help you fight for the very best outcome in your criminal case. Call our office to schedule your free case assessment today.