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Stricter drinking rules may affect Wisconsin drivers

If the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has its way, then Wisconsin drivers who like to drink and drive may have a harder time getting away with it. The NTSB released recommendations that drivers all across the U.S. should be held to more restrictive standards defining how much alcohol is too much. Their recommendations also called for stiffer penalties for drunk drivers, such as mandatory interlock devices for first-time offenders.

Currently, the U.S. national limit for Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC, is 0.08 percent. After reviewing data from various sources, however, the NTSB recommended that the entire nation lower this level to 0.05 percent. This standard is already in place in over 100 countries around the world, and NTSB advisers say that it's just a matter of time before it becomes law here. Although agency representatives said that they knew such changes would be unpopular, they also referenced studies that showed this lower limit to be more in line with how much alcohol it takes to impair drivers in terms of cognitive ability and vision.

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) backs the idea that this move will reduce the incidence of yearly traffic deaths. NHTSA representatives also said that they would actively cooperate with any state that wanted to implement lower alcohol limits.

This proposal also included recommendations for increased police tools for detecting and dealing with drivers who may be impaired. While it's as yet uncertain whether these national guidelines will be adopted, their implementation could result in more indictments. The last time the maximum BAC cutoff was reduced, the number of alcohol-related crash fatalities per year was reduced by more than half. However, there are still families of nearly 10,000 victims every year who experience the grief of losing a loved one due to drinking and driving.

Source: CNN, "Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths", Mike Ahlers, May 15, 2013

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Mudge Porter Lundeen & Seguin, S.C.
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