Is a Lower Drunk Driving Threshold on the Horizon?

Most people are aware that consuming alcohol can impair their ability to do many things, especially drive. That is what makes driving under the influence of alcohol so dangerous. Alcohol affects various systems within the body and consequently impairs an individual’s judgment, coordination, and many other important functions that are required to safely operate a vehicle. A recent article from The Denver Post indicates that there may be scientific support in decreasing the level at which an individual is considered to be impaired, which could ultimately lead to lowering the impairment threshold in Colorado and other states across the country.

New Recommendations

Almost every state has the same alcohol-related threshold for measuring impairment, setting the legal limit for a person’s blood alcohol concentration at 0.08%. However, many states, including Colorado, have another lower threshold for impaired driving where a person can be charged with driving while ability impaired if his or her blood alcohol concentration is between 0.051% and 0.08%. Recently, Utah passed a law that would lower the state’s legal limit for DUIs to 0.05%.

According to the article, a new government-commissioned report made several recommendations for how to combat drunk driving across the country. One of those recommendations has the potential to have a big impact across the country, including here in Colorado. According to the report on which the article is based, 29 people die in the United States each day as a result of alcohol-related crashes, with rural areas being affected by such fatalities more than cities. Supporters of the change believe lowering the threshold for driving under the influence may help decrease that number of alcohol-related fatalities on U.S. roadways each year.

Fierce opposition to this movement has already been building, with detractors saying it will do nothing to deter repeat offenders who are responsible for the majority of alcohol-related deaths. Other recommendations included limiting accessibility to alcohol and increasing the tax on alcohol. According to the article, there is research that suggests doubling the alcohol tax can actually lead to a reduction in alcohol-related fatalities. The report also encourages law enforcement to crack down on underage drinking and other issues that negatively impact drunk driving statistics.

Considerations

The research demonstrates that several factors play into the recent increases in alcohol-related fatalities. When the legal drinking age was increased to 21, alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries saw a decline for many years. However, the article notes that alcoholic beverages are now more widely available, cost less, and come in a greater variety – including being mixed with substances like caffeine and energy drinks. This combination of circumstance has likely led to an increase in alcohol-related deaths over the past several years, and research indicates that taking another firm step on a national level would be an important part of reversing the troubling trend of increased fatalities and injuries in alcohol-related traffic incidents.

Legal Assistance with DUI Charges

Facing DUI charges can be intimidating, but you do not need to face them alone. Working with an attorney who focuses on helping clients facing DUI charges can be an important first step in exploring the options that might be available in your defense. If you are facing alcohol-related charges like driving under the influence in Colorado, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about what options might be available in your defense.

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(image courtesy of Daniel Monteiro)

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