November 02, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Federal agency pushes to lower legal blood alcohol limit to lower drunk driving crashes
At the beginning of summer, the National Transportation Safety Board voted to adopt a recommendation that all states, including Pennsylvania, adopt a lower legal blood alcohol limit, the purpose of which is to reduce the incidence of drunk driving accidents
. The recommendation asks Pennsylvania and other states to lower the legal limit from 0.08 to 0.05 and is the latest national effort to reduce car accidents caused by driving under the influence. Pennsylvanians are no stranger to such accidents. Nearly halfway through September a teen driver charged with drinking and driving crashed into the van of a five-member family, injuring the family members including a sixth-month old, and prosecutors in central Pennsylvania are raising a driver's prior DUI convictions in his trial for fatally striking a fire chief with his car while under the influence.
According to the NTSB, a driver with a 0.05 blood alcohol content is 1.38 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a sober driver, and a driver with a BAC of 0.08 is 2.69 times more likely to be in an accident. In Pennsylvania, according to PennDOT, the number of alcohol-related crashes in the state increased from 11,778 in 2011 to 11,956 in 2012. Fortunately, the number of fatalities related to crashes involving alcohol decreased between 2011 and 2012. However, more than 400 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2012. The NTSB believes the numbers in Pennsylvania and other states could be improved and the adoption of a lower legal limit would help meet that goal. More than 100 countries already have BAC limits of 0.05 or lower.
The current legal blood alcohol limit in Pennsylvania is 0.08, and Pennsylvania was one of the last states to adopt the standard in 2003. However, drivers in Pennsylvania with lower BACs may still be charged with driving under the influence if the lower level of alcohol still impairs the ability to drive. Both of these standards go toward establishing a defendant's negligence in a personal injury case concerning a drunk driving accident. If the legal limit has been violated it is easier to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent.
Those opposed to the recommendation worry that individuals who normally like to have an alcoholic drink or two at a restaurant will no longer be able to. According to the University of Pittsburgh, a man who weighs 175 pounds can reach 0.05 after two drinks, and a woman who weighs 125 pounds can reach 0.05 after one drink. An individual's BAC is affected by the number of drinks consumed within a given time period, body weight and food consumption, among other factors.
As a federal agency, the NTSB has no legislative power and only has the power to advocate a change in the standard. So far, Pennsylvania state lawmakers have not acted on the recommendation and many in the state, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, believe it will be some time before the state adopts the tougher limit. However, two recent car accidents involving alcohol
should remind Pennsylvanians of the importance of personal responsibility and the dramatic impact that a crash caused by impaired driving has on victims.
According to WFMJ.com, an underage driver blew through a stop sign crashing into the van of a family. The underage driver was charged with DUI among other counts. Four of the five family members suffered moderate to severe injuries and were rushed to a local hospital after the accident. The driver only suffered a minor hand injury. In York, Pennsylvania prosecutors are bringing to light a drunk driver's prior DUI history in the driver's criminal trial. The driver is responsible for the death of a 45-year-odl Loganville Fire Chief, and according to the York Daily Record police allege the driver's BAC was .118 at the time of the accident.
If you or a loved one have been in a car accident caused by impaired driving in central Pennsylvania, contact a personal injury attorney experienced handling car accident cases involving alcohol to best protect you rights and to preserve your right to recovery.
Article provided by McCarthy Weisberg Cummings, P.C.
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