NTSB Recommends Lowering Legal Driving Limit to .05

NTSB Recommends .05 BAC Limit for Drivers

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The amount of alcohol you can legally drink before getting behind the wheel could be lowered if New York takes the advice of one federal agency. The National Transportation Safety Board says lowering the legal blood alcohol content for drivers from .08 to .05 would make our roads safer.

This is just a suggestion on a wish list the N.T.S.B. came up with each state would have to individually change its laws. The Erie County Sheriff says he'd want more information before saying this is a good idea. The N.T.S.B. also made the recommendation in 2013.

"And at that time, I didn't jump on to support it then. I don't know that I would now. Absent, as the Senator just said, actually seeing some medical, some scientific data that suggested a person, in fact, any person at that lower level is in fact intoxicated," says Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard.

That Senator is former Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan, who also wants to see the data which was not included in the N.T.S.B.'s wish list.

"At this point, it's really too early to tell because they've just come out with, there's been no discussion in Albany as of yet because we haven't seen what their proposal may or may not be," says State Senator Patrick Gallivan.

Sheriff Howard says D.W.I. arrests in Erie County were down last year and that many of the arrests were of repeat offenders.

Criminal defense attorney Mike Taheri represents drivers facing D.W.I. charges. He thinks the state should at least consider .05.

"If you look to Europe, if they're the leader, if they're the vanguard, they've lowered it to .05 and they have said, look our fatalities from alcohol are down. But New York State certainly is going to say people can drink and drive in New York," says Taheri.

Right now, .08 means a 180 pound man could have four beers in an hour and still legally drive. A limit of .05 would change that.

"You're talking a couple drinks. You're talking a couple drinks. A guy's 160 pounds, probably two-and-a-half, three drinks, and he's at a .05. If he would be charged under that, he would be subject to a misdemeanor prosecution as a first time offender," says Taheri.

Back in 2013, the N.T.S.B. issued a lengthy report and it said lowering the rate to .05 would save nearly one-thousand lives a year.


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