HOLMBERG: Drop the drunk-driving blood level to .05?!
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Could the U.S. really slash its drunk-driving standard from .08 blood alcohol content to .05?
As it turns out, the U.S. is a world leader, concerning letting its citizens drive with that much booze–.08– on board. And it happened before, in 2000, when President Clinton signed a bill required all states to adopt the .08 standard or lose federal highway funding.
Virginia and 17 other states had already adopted the .08 standard. Every other state had to follow or have their federal dollars slashed.
Since then, except for an early rise in drunken fatalities after the law was signed, the number of fatal crashes involving alcohol in the U.S. have steadily declined. Consider that, in 1982, 60 percent of all fatal crashes involved alcohol. In 2011, that number was halved, down to 32 percent.
The National Transportation Safety Board believes the .05 standard would slice the number of deaths and injuries even more dramatically.
But it’s pretty obvious how criminalizing one big glass of wine or a couple of beers would impact the restaurant, bar and entertainment industries. Even a two-beer trip to the ballpark could mean a mug shot and a scarlet letter, since drunk driving has become one of the most politically incorrect things you can do. For many, it can cost them their jobs (if not their lives).
Virginia already has some of the toughest drunk-driving laws in the nation. You don’t even have to blow a .08 here to be charged with driving under the influence, if you’re driving erratically or have caused a crash after drinking.
And let’s remember that state and federal governments rake in some $15 billion in alcohol tax revenues each year, which makes them among the greediest bartenders.
There’s no question the lower standard would save lives. So would dropping the speed limit to 25 mph.
Lowering the standard would also bring localities more money in fines. But it would also, no question, dig into the pockets of anyone who sells.
And it would dramatically increase the number of people who are branded criminals.
That’s my take, please leave yours here on WTVR.com