The NTSB Recommends Lowering BAC To Address OVI Fatalities

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The most commonly committed criminal offense in the United States is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impaired driving is both an individual and community issue — a corporate executive is just as likely to drive impaired as an hourly worker. Recent recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) aim to lower the fatalities caused by those who choose to drink and drive.

As of mid-August 2013, the Ohio State Highway Patrol has handled 14,834 incidents involving those who operate a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). That figure is only 544 short of the 15,378 OVI incidents registered in all of 2012. Nationwide, the NTSB notes that impaired drivers kill approximately 100,000 people each year.

To combat drunk driving, the NTSB released a report in May suggesting the following interventions:

  • Lower the legal blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) from .08 percent to .05 percent. Research shows impairment can occur in some drivers at as little as .01 percent BAC.
  • Require all impaired driving offenders to install ignition interlock devices, and monitor offenders to ensure that the equipment is installed.
  • Develop and implement more impaired driving courts that intensively handle and monitor drunk driving offenders by providing appropriate treatment programs and consequences.
  • Increase high visibility efforts by law enforcement, including stepping up sobriety checkpoints, media messaging and local enforcement campaigns.

While the NTSB’s recommendations are not binding on individual states, they provide a framework for legislators across the nation to debate, discuss and create their own impaired driving interventions. Tougher BAC laws lower the bar on OVI convictions if such legislation is ever passed.