NTSB Seeks Reduction in "Legal" Blood Alcohol Limit to 0.05%

NTSB Seeks Reduction in "Legal" Blood Alcohol Limit to 0.05%

The National Transportation Safety Board is urging states to adopt a lower "legal limit" of  blood alcohol content for per se impaired driving to 0.05%, following a vote on Tuesday.  Many states, including Kentucky, currently set the "legal limit" at 0.08%. 

A driver is presumed to be impaired in Kentucky if his or her blood alcohol content is greater than 0.08% as measured by a scientifically reliable blood or breath test within two hours of operating a motor vehicle.  While evidence can be used by a driver to rebut that presumption of impairment, NTSB is urging the reduction in "legal limit" as part of an overall push to eliminate deaths caused by impaired driving.

“Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “Alcohol-impaired deaths are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has estimated reducing the "legal limit" below 0.08% could save over 7,000 lives per year.  Australia reported a 12 percent decline in alcohol-related deaths as a share of overall traffic fatalities when it lowered its legal limit to 0.05%. The limit in most of Europe is also 0.05%.

NTSB's recommendations are not binding on states, who are free to accept or reject the recommended changes to current DUI laws.