On May 14th, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new regulations to the states that would curtail the rampant problem of alcohol-impaired driving. Among the many suggestions, the NTSB recommended that states lower the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for criminal prosecution from .08 to .05. A .05 BAC is roughly the equivalent of one drink for most people in an hour. Research cited in the press release by NTSB indicates that alcohol related impairment can occur after just one drink. This impairment expresses itself in a decline in both cognitive and visual function on the part of the driver. Lowering the BAC standard to .05 would bring the United States into agreement with the majority of countries who also use the .05 standard.
In 2011, alcohol-impaired driving took the lives of over 1,400 people in Texas alone. This accounted for nearly half of all road related deaths in 2011. These statistics have unfortunately remained steady for the past decade. Further, alcohol-impaired driving caused over 57.000 collisions involving serious injuries. State legislatures should take the advice of the NTSB and implement swift action against the problems plaguing our roadways. Too many have died due to this rampant abuse of alcohol and driving. Alcohol and cars do not mix!
Another provision the NTSB recommended is the creation of specialized DUI courts. These courts could handle the many difficult issues that are present in most DUI cases and closely monitor offenders. The NTSB had previously recommended the implementation of ignition interlocks, however studies indicate that due to lack of adequate monitoring and enforcement, only 1 in 4 who have been ordered to use the ignition interlocks actually have them. Specialized DUI courts would be equipped to handle these issues and prevent law enforcement.
We need to, as a society, tell our legislators that drunk driving has killed far too many Texans and that those who continue to violate the law should be held accountable. Even after one drink, a driver is risking not only his or her life, but also the lives of anyone he meets on the road. This cannot be tolerated.