Will Blood Alcohol Content Thresholds Go Lower In Kentucky?

In May 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the blood alcohol content (BAC) that establishes the threshold for being charged with driving under the influence be dropped from .08 to .05. This is a rather controversial recommendation as it likely means that a woman who weighs 120 pounds or less could be charged with DUI if she is pulled over after having one glass of wine with friends over dinner. The average man would exceed this level after a couple of beers. This means that anyone who goes out for a social drink or two will have to arrange for alternative transportation because he runs a great risk of being over the legal limit. Opponents of the recommendation state that resources would better be focused on offenders with very high BAC levels or those who have been arrested for more than one DUI.

All fifty states have adopted the regulation that .08 is the limit for a driver being impaired behind the wheel. The final state to legislate that limit was Delaware in 2004. The NTSB has started a new campaign based on studies that show that a driver has a much greater probability of being involved in a fatal crash with a BAC of .05, as compared to someone who has not been drinking. The NTSB claims that a reduction in the limits is necessary to dramatically reduce the 10,000 alcohol-related deaths that still happen each year on American roads, although there was a significant drop in drunk driving related deaths following the decrease from .10 to .08. However, even ardent anti-drunk driving advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have not endorsed the new campaign at this time.

The NTSB has proposed additional changes in the system for prosecuting DUI cases, including the creation of an adjudication system that would streamline the prosecution of DUI-related offenses. In addition to these new campaign goals, the NTSB still is advocating for the use of ignition interlock devices (IID) by all drivers who have been convicted of a DUI offense. These devices are installed in the personal vehicles of the offenders and the drivers must blow into a testing apparatus that analyzes whether or not the drivers' BAC is below the legal limit - only with an acceptable level will the vehicle start. One of the critiques of this recommendation is that it would apply to everyone convicted of DUI, even first-time offenders. Another proposal is that law enforcement officers are equipped with new technology that "sniffs" the air at the scene of a suspected DUI and will alert to any presence of alcohol, even if the driver has taken evasive maneuvers such as chewing gum or using a breath mint to camouflage any alcohol consumption.

Nobody is going to argue that preventing alcohol-related deaths is extremely important, but the manner in which this is done is what is up for discussion. There are organizations that believe that the new NTSB recommendations will strip resources from law enforcement officers that presently are being used to pursue binge drinkers who drive with BACs above .15, who are far more likely to cause a fatal accident than a social drinker, as well as repeat offenders.

Kentucky does have strictly enforced DUI laws including strict DUI penalties andaggravating circumstances. In addition to the .08 limit for the general population of drivers, there are special provisions for drivers under the age of 21, who can be arrested with a BAC of .02, and commercial drivers who risk prosecution with a BAC of .04. The Implied Consent Law means that drivers agree to blood, breath, or urine analysis to determine BAC and if they refuse, their licenses can be suspended for thirty (30) days to five (5) years, even if the driver is never convicted of DUI. Kentucky takes drunk driving very seriously, but we will have to wait and see if the state decides to follow the NTSB recommendation.

If you have been arrested for DUI, your situation is not hopeless. The experiencedDUI defense attorneys at Goeing Goeing and McQuinn PLLC can help you get your life back on course. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, we can also assist with that.

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