Although drunk driving rates have dropped significantly over the years, a significant number of crashes are still at least partially blamed on alcohol intoxication. In addition, rates of drunk driving have remained relatively stable over the past decade. Because of this, interest has grown in reducing the legal alcohol limit in the hopes of preventing accidents. Here are a few facts about alcohol intoxication and whether it would be wise to lower the legal limit.
Are Legal Limits Too High?
In the United States, legal alcohol limits vary by state. In many states, a 0.08% blood-alcohol level is considered intoxicated. In other states, is 0.10% blood-alcohol level is considered illegal. In comparison to most other nations, however, these levels are high, and many European countries use a 0.05% or 0.02% limit. Relatively speaking, legal limits are fairly high in the United States. In addition, low-cost blood-alcohol meters have demonstrated to many that the legal limits in the United States are beyond where many people would feel comfortable driving. Based on these facts, the rationale for lowering legal limits of alcohol intake before driving seem sound. However, there are some counterarguments.
Do Current Levels Really Dangerous?
Studies have shown that most drivers involved in accidents where alcohol is deemed to be a factor are well above existing limits. Statistics can be difficult to compile; various regulators consider any reading of alcohol to be indicative of an alcohol-related accident. However, studies that control for these factors seem to demonstrate that most people can drive relatively safely at current alcohol limits. While driving ability does drop at current levels, tired drivers seem to perform even worse. Based on cognitive impairment, there seem to be little reason to lower current limits.
Small Changes Can Make a Difference
Even though studies seem to indicate that lowering the legal limits will have only a small impact, this small change can make a tremendous difference. By encouraging drivers to call a taxi or to take public transportation, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of potentially fatal accidents. In addition, arguments that state that current levels are no worse than tired driving ignore the fact that tired drivers cause a large number of accidents. There is little doubt that lowering the legal intoxication limit would save lives and prevent injuries.
Part of the reason why European countries have lower limits than those in the United States is based on the widespread availability of public transportation. In addition, European cities tend to be denser than most cities in the United States. Because of this, Europeans are less dependent on automobiles than United States citizens. As an adjunct to these new rules, some are encouraging cities and states to provide better options for drivers who are intoxicated. Calling a taxi can be expensive; by subsidizing the cost of taxi service or providing better public transportation, it may be possible to encourage people to avoid driving while intoxicated.Drunk driving remains a problem throughout the world, and there is a considerable amount of interest in finding ways to reduce the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. However, solutions are not easy to find. While lowering the legal limit for alcohol intoxication while driving may help, it is important to use a multifaceted approach instead of looking for a single solution to the problem.