NTSB pushing for tougher drunk-driving standard

Wed, May 22, 2013 at 11:15AM

When talking about drinking and driving laws, the first organization many people think of is MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Yet, that organization has not yet fully endorsed the NTSB's proposal which recommends all 50 states make a .05 blood-alcohol level legally drunk.

Daniel Leising is a Daytona Beach attorney specializing in DUI defense. He and others in his profession have a problem with the lower number. Right now, that .05 is key in state law.

“.05 or less, we get to argue there's a presumption that that driver's fine, that they're not impaired. Of course the state can try to counter that with other evidence but that's in the statute and again, it's basically innocent conduct,” Leising said.

Determining what the difference is between .08 and .05 is difficult.

Leising said it could have many people thinking twice about two-for-one happy hours.

“Again, because there are different people, different things in play but it could be a drink or two over the course of an hour that goes from being just fine to drive, with at this lower level a DUI charge,” Leising said.

Leising also wonders with this latest push by the NTSB, how accurate is the method they use to determine what is drunk.

“Again, it has been accepted and it's in our statutes that an 05 or less , it's presumed that you're not impaired. So it just raises some doubts about, you know, these numbers and the type of evidence and the type of data that's being compiled to suggest that these are the correct numbers,” Leising said.

According to the NTSB, .05 is the standard in more than 100 countries. In Europe, for instance, in countries where the .05 has been enacted drunk driving deaths were cut in half in the first 10 years.

Only the individual states can change the drunk driving limits. That last time the limit was reduced, from point-one-oh to point-oh-eight was in 1984.

It took 21 years before all 50 states had that standard in place. Florida's standard was changed in 1994.

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