Each year in this country, there are nearly 10,000 alcohol-related driving deaths. For decades, drunk driving deaths decreased thanks in large measure to increasing the drinking age to 21 and reducing the drunk driving BAC threshold. But unfortunately, drunk driving is again on the rise. Currently, twenty-eight (28) percent of all car accident deaths are attributable to alcohol. If you live in a rural area, the numbers are worse – the number jumps to 48%. Given these staggering numbers, the federal government commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to study the problem and offer suggestions on how to reduce these numbers. In a nearly 500 page report, the panel recommended some controversial changes to reduce the frequency of drunk driving, and some of those recommendations are already meeting with opposition.
Lower the Drunk Driving Threshold. Currently, all States have a drunk driving threshold of 0.08, but the panel recommends that threshold be further lowered to 0.05. Significantly, Utah has already passed a law lowering the threshold to 0.05 but the law does not go into effect until later this year, so we do not have any data on how a lower threshold might affect the numbers in the United States. However, more than 100 countries have already adopted the 0.05 threshold and in Europe drunk driving deaths dropped by more than half within 10 years after the threshold was lowered. This proposal is meeting with opposition. Depending upon a person’s size and recent food consumption, the lower threshold could mean a 150 pound man could be over the limit after two beers while a 120 pound woman could be over the limit after just one glass of wine. Not surprisingly, the beverage and restaurant industry is opposed to the lower limit.
Increased Alcohol Taxes The panel recommends doubling the tax on alcohol. According to research, this alone could reduce alcohol-related deaths by roughly 11%.
Limit Alcohol Marketing During the upcoming Super Bowl, many of the commericals will be alcohol-related. Budweiser always has fantastic ads, and the NFL has now lifted its ban on liquor advertising. The panel would like to limit alcohol marketing of this type. In its place, the panel suggests anti-alcohol campaigns, similar to those for smoking, be substituted.
Other suggestions include increased enforcement and penalties for those who sell alcohol to anyone underage or to anyone who is already intoxicated. If you would like to better understand a restaurant or bars liability when they sell alcohol in these circumstances, visit our website at www.johndaylegal.com/liquor-liability.
What do you think of these proposed changes to alcohol laws? Leave your thoughts in the comments. And, of course, if you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver and would like a free consultation, call us anytime at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 or 866-812-8787 (toll-free). Our award-winning lawyers handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. We advance all case expenses so you are never out of pocket to pursue your legal rights.