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NTSB recommends lowering blood alcohol limit for drivers

Most drivers in Illinois are aware that the legal blood-alcohol limit is .08 percent throughout the country. On Jan. 13, the National Transportation Safety Board announced its recommendation to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit. The NTSB wants drivers to be considered legally drunk if they have a blood-alcohol limit of .05 percent, and perhaps even lower.

In addition to lowering the BAC level, the NTSB wants states to completely outlaw all types of driver cellphone use including hands-free technology. Right now, there are no states that have laws prohibiting drivers from using hands-free cell phones. The acting chairman of the NTSB said that hands-free cell phone use is cognitively distracting and takes a driver's mind off the task of driving.

If the NTSB recommendation for a .05 percent BAC limit were to be implemented, some drivers would be legally drunk after only one drink. After one drink, a 100-pound woman has a .05 percent BAC. A man weighing 180 pounds has a .05 percent BAC after two drinks. A man of average weight can consume around four alcoholic drinks before his blood-alcohol level reaches the current legal limit.

A police officer who suspects that a driver is impaired by alcohol may administer a field sobriety test, breath test or blood test. If one or more of these tests is not administered properly, a driver could be falsely accused of drunk driving. A criminal defense attorney can sometimes dispute the evidence that is being used against a client who has received such charges by arguing that a test showed a false positive.

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