An Analysis of Changing the Drinking and Driving Laws in America

Should the drinking and driving laws change from 0.10 per cent to 0.08? Lets look at all the reasons that we should have this law changed. In the past 15 years progress has been made to reduce the proportion of fatally injured drivers with high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) at or above 0.10. Proportions are lower in all age groups. Theyre lower among drivers of passenger cars, tractor-trailers, and motorcycles. But still, alcohol-impaired driving is a major problem. [1] Many states are now lowering the BAC defining impaired driving from 0.

10 per cent to 0.08 per cent. A BAC as low as 0.02 percent has been shown to affect driving ability and crash likelihood. The probability of a crash rises after 0.05 percent and even more rapidly after about 0.08 percent. [1] If reduced to 0.08 per cent this equals out to around 2-3 drinks per average person. On an average persons body weight 2-3 drinks can alter the mind, impair vision, and affect coordination. If this all happens at 0.08 per cent then at 0.

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10 percent it get worse.

Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs known to man; it has been with us since the dawn of civilization. The effects of alcohol on driving ability are well known even moderate amounts produce serious impairment in many individuals. It has commonly been observed that alcohol is a factor in a large proportion of all fatal traffic accidents. Approximately 70% of drivers killed in a single vehicle accident and 50% of drivers killed in multi-vehicle collisions had been drinking. Among all driver fatalities, alcohol was detected in the blood of 60-70 % of those considered responsible for their own More than half of the pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had recently been drinking, and there are numerous reports that alcohol is a contributing factor in a great number of industrial accidents.

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A large proportion of the people involved in such accidents are chronic alcoholics, although the majority are apparently social drinkers.

Rep. Nita Lowey and Sen. Frank Lautenberg proposed legislation that will have make any state that does not lower their drunk driving blood alcohol limit from .10 % to .08 % to lose their federal highway funds. Companion legislation would withhold federal funds for states that fail to adopt a series of mandatory minimum penalties for alcohol-related crimes. 13 States now have the .08% , the rest are .10% (except two The "Safe and Sober Streets Act of 1997" sets a national illegal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit of .08 percent for drivers age 21 and over. Modeled after Senator Frank R. Lautenberg's 1984 law establishing 21 as the national drinking age, the bill gives states that have a limit above .08 BAC, three years to adopt .08 laws. States that fail to enact this limit will lose a percentage of their highway construction funds - five percent the first year, ten percent in the first year, and 10 percent each year after. [3]

Currently, each state sets its own legal "Blood Alcohol Concentration," or BAC level, but only 15 states have passed .08 BAC laws. Drunk driving has decreased in For a 170 lb. male, roughly four and a half drinks in one hour on an empty stomach will boost his blood alcohol level to .08. For a 137 lb. woman, it would take over three drinks in one hour on an empty stomach to boost her blood alcohol level to In 1996, there were 17,126 fatalities from alcohol related crashes. 41 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Of those, 9 percent -- or nearly 4,000 deaths -- involved drivers who were under .10 BAC (the legal limit in 35 states). [3] A study published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that if all states adopted .08 BAC laws, there would be 500 - 600 fewer fatal crashes each It is at .08 BAC -- not .10 BAC -- that a person is impaired. His/her vision, balance, reaction time and hearing, judgment and self-control are seriously affected. Critical driving tasks are also negatively affected -- concentrated attention, speed control, braking, steering, gear changing and lane tracking. [3] .08 BAC laws deter driving after drinking. Crash statistics show that even heavy drinkers, who account for a high percentage of DWI arrests, are less likely to drink and drive because of the general deterrent effect of the .08 law. One study of states with .08 BAC laws, found that .08 BAC laws reduced the overall incidence of alcohol fatalities by 16 percent, and also reduced fatalities at higher BAC levels. [3]

Lowering the BAC limit to .08 makes it possible to convict seriously impaired drivers whose levels are now considered marginal because they are at or just over .10 The risk of being in a crash rises gradually with each BAC level, but then rises rapidly after a driver reaches or exceeds .08 BAC compared to drivers with no alcohol in their system. In single vehicle crashes the relative fatality risk for drivers with BACS between .05 and .09 is over eleven times greater than for drivers with a BAC of Canada, Great Britain, Austria and Switzerland have .08 BAC laws. France and the Netherlands' limit is .05 BAC and Sweden's is .02 BAC. [3] Since 1975, 21 drinking age laws have saved about 15,700 lives. Every year, roughly 1,000 lives are saved from the 21 drinking law. The law is credited with having saved over 10,000 lives since its enactment. [3] Alcohol contributes not only to the occurrence of crashes but also to the initial severity of injuries, problems in treatment, and ultimate outcome.

The exact relationship of alcohol use and abuse and other lifestyles us just beginning to be examined, and the dearth of knowledge remains important to achieving behavioral change for drivers and With lowering the BAC limit to 0.08% this will deter the driving after the drinking, more people will be aware of the conseqences that come along with drinking and driving and will think twice before doing so. It will decrease the fatalities by 16 percent, and also reduced fatalities at the higher BAC levels. With the law more innocent lives with be saved not to mention the amount of decreased drunk drivinng. People will finally learn that drinking and driving does not pay. I believe it will make more people aware of how much they drink before climbing behind the wheel of a car. Their awareness of responsbility to theirselves and others will increase and be more awakening by the fact if stopped and tested they no longer can get away with being legally drunk at .10% but now at .08 %. The government is going along this in the right way by holding out on funding for states not willing to decrease they BAC laws. This will make them more aware of how serious the situation really is and how they themselves can help to prevent more fatalities each year. Without government funding they wull have to look elsewhere for highway monies, which they will have a hard time finding. Given three years to adopt the .08 laws they can research the states that do carry the .08 law, Then they can match their statistics to their own .10 laws, with this research they will be able to see just how the fatalitie rate has decreased and how many lives it has actually saved. [4]


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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An Analysis of Changing the Drinking and Driving Laws in America. (2022, Oct 22). Retrieved from

An Analysis of Changing the Drinking and Driving Laws in America essay
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