Several states over the past year have been debating whether to decrease the legal limit of alcohol one can have and drive. Utah has now passed and implemented legislation to lower its legal blood alcohol level from .08 to .05. The legislation was highly contentious, and a late effort by restaurant groups and others appealed to the governor to veto the bill, but it will become part of that state’s law.
Years ago a similar debate was raging about alcohol levels, and again Utah was the first to lower its legal limit from .1 to .08, and now it seems like the trend will repeat. Since that time, all the states have lowered their limits and it appears several others are poised to follow suit. If history is our guide, then we might see a number of states lowering their BACs as well.
Comparing Other Parts of the World
The NTSB is one of the big drivers behind the push to lower legal BAC levels across the country. One of the justifications given is that most of the known world operates with the law that anything over .05 is drunk driving and against the law. That is true in most of Europe, Africa, Australia, and elsewhere, but the analysis of legal BAC should not end there.
In most of the rest of the world those accused of crimes are not treated like they are here. If you get caught drinking and driving in France, they do not impound your car, arrest you, and basically cause you to spend thousands in defense and other legal fees. It is a much more relaxed criminal justice system, so it is not a fair comparison.
Making the Roads Safer?
Another justification for lowering the legal BAC level in Europe and elsewhere is because it will make the roads safer. But that logic has holes and flaws in it, as well. Most of the accidents caused by drunk driving are due to people with a BAC much higher than .08, and in fact, the roads are most dangerous because of drivers traveling at excessive speeds and not wearing a seatbelt, not to mention the huge issue of distracted driving.
A better explanation for this move and the movement to get other states to follow is that DWI is an easy target for politicians. Those accused of DWI are typically not sympathetic defendants, and everyone already agrees that we should not drink and drive. It is easy to continue to make it more and more difficult for those accused of DWI to get a fair hearing by either judge or jury.
Knowing and Defending Your Rights
This is just another example of the public shaming of DWI that takes place more and more frequently across the country. As a result, if you are facing DWI charges you not only face the prospect of a criminal conviction, but you do so in an environment that is increasingly hostile to those accused of DWI. That is why you will need an advocate and a defender.
At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we are proud to defend those accused of DWI in Texas. We dedicate our practice to helping those accused of DWI know their rights, and then defend them against the system. If you are facing DWI charges, contact us today.
(image courtesy of Courtney Recker)