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Government report suggests reducing legal blood-alcohol limit

About one-third of all traffic fatalities since 1982 are attributable to alcohol-impaired driving, according to a new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report suggests that the number of traffic fatalities may be reduced by changing the legal blood alcohol concentration percentage from .08 percent to .05 percent. Some Ohioans agree with the report's suggestion, while others express concerns.

Over 600 impairment citations were issued in the Marietta Municipal Court in 2017 alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,637 Ohioans were killed in drunk driving accidents between 2003 and 2012. The agency further reports that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for Americans during the first three decades of their lives. The CDC cites several strategies that are effective for reducing or preventing drunk driving, including drunk driving laws, sobriety checkpoints, ignition interlocks, mass media campaigns and school-based instructional programs.

The NASEM report suggests implementing a stricter BAC limit for drivers. A Washington County sheriff supports the proposed change, stating that any amount of alcohol can affect one's driving. An Ohio State Highway Patrol commander agrees that even those driving below the legal limit of .08 can still be intoxicated enough to pose a danger on the road.

However, some Ohio business owners think that implementing stricter BAC limits for drivers is not an effective strategy. The owner of an Ohio tavern thinks that the rule would not have much of an effect on road safety but would seriously impact businesses. She notes that there are less bars in the area since the legal limit was changed from .1 to .08 ten years ago.

Utah legislators have already passed a law reducing the BAC limit to .05 percent and lawmakers in New York are also considering making the change. It remains to be seen whether Ohio will implement the change and how it will affect alcohol-related accidents.

Source: The Marietta Times, DWI turn signal? New report sparks debate on consuming alcohol, driving," Janelle Patterson, January 23, 2018

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