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Debate over lowering legal limit to 0.05 percent rages on

Readers in New Haven may recall when the legal driving limit in Connecticut was reduced to 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content. Proponents said at the time that the lower BAL would lead to fewer injuries in drunk driving car accidents and some statistics since then support that theory.

Now some regulators want to lower the legal limit again, this time to 0.05. That was the proposal made not too long ago by the National Transportation Safety Board. Since then, lawmakers and the public have debated whether setting the limit at that level would impact impaired driving and traffic safety -- or would end up causing unimpaired drivers to be arrested without addressing the central problem of heavy drinkers behind the wheel.

While some politicians are eager to be perceived as tough on drinking and driving, some critics say that a 0.05 BAL would have little impact on motor vehicle accidents. Getting to 0.05 would take a man weighing 160 pounds about two drinks and just one for a 120 pound woman. Many people would say that they are not significantly impaired after one or two drinks but they would be committing a crime under the NTSB proposal.

Critics also believe that the proposal would have the unintended consequence of harming businesses. People may opt to stay home rather than go to a bar, restaurant, nightclub or other business where alcohol is served because they are afraid of getting arrested for DUI.

We will have to wait and see if the Connecticut General Assembly will consider a bill to adopt the 0.05 BAL. We will keep readers updated about how such a bill would impact their rights.

Source: Kane County Chronicle, "Pushing the limit: Mixed reaction to recommendation to lower DUI threshold," Eric Schelkopf, July 2, 2013

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