Strong Reaction to NTSB's Alcohol Limit Proposal

11:58 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends that all states pass laws reducing the legal limit to consume alcohol from 0.08% to 0.05%

The board says the measure would cut down on fatal crashes caused by DWI and other problems related to drunk driving.

"Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable," said Deborah Hersman of the NTSB.

Dropping the alcohol limit would impact tens of thousands, perhaps millions of drivers from when they leave a restaurant or an event or if they're just going home.

That's because an amount adult drivers thought they could drink would be outlawed if the state reduces the alcohol limit. Dr. Kimberly Walitzer of UB's Research Institute on Addictions says the last recommendation of this kind came from the NTSB 31 years ago to get the current BAC level.

"We think we are less-impaired by alcohol than we really are even at low levels. You see impairment in judgement, impairment in balance, impairment in reaction time," said Walitzer, "it will likely save thousands of lives."

DWI attorney Mike Taheri says there are about 5,000 DWI cases each year in Western New York. And that most of them - about 3,500 come from Erie County.

Taheri says the state is not considering NTSB's recommendation, at least not yet. If the law was changed, DWI cases would likely rise.

"This really fits the plan, this is the next piece if we push down and lower the BAC you hope it has the deterrant affect that fewer people go out and drink and drive," said Taheri.


Another recommendation the NTSB wants states to consider is requiring vehicle ignition interlocks, which New York state already requires, for all offenders and develop and create more DWI courts.

No one may feel more passionate about DWI law than someone who's been victimized by a drunk driver, like Linda Dion, who lost her granddaughter Baylee in a drunk-driving accident last November.

"It doesn't really matter what it is, people get away with it all the time, so I think sentencing. I think punishment, I think something that would put the fear in people," said Dion.

The NTSB says it has a roadmap in stopping drunk driving, so more recommendations can be expected in the future.

The recommendations come on the 25th anniversary of the deadliest drunk-driving crash in the nation's history. It happened in Kentucky, where 24 children and three adults were killed in a school bus crash.


Groups like Mother's Against Drunk Driving support the suggestions.

But, the American Beverage Institute opposes them saying they're too tough, unproven and that more thought needs to be put into the measures before they're considered.




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