New Report Pushes for Lower BAC Limit Nationwide: Will .05 Be the New Normal?

In January of this year, a new report came out calling for lowering the Blood Alcohol Concentration limit nationwide from .08 to .05. I wrote earlier about how Utah lowering their BAC limit to .05. The study was conducted by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, are private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. The study was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In this blog post, I will be going over the some of the report recommendations.

Recommendations: Lower BAC, Taxes, Alcohol Advertising, and More

The report recommends that the Blood Alcohol Limit be changed from .08 to .05. The organization found that a person’s ability to drive a vehicle deteriorates at BAC levels lower than .05.

The report calls for increased alcohol taxes, as there is strong evidence that increased alcohol taxes decrease binge drinking. The current taxes do not cover the harms inflicted by alcohol-related harms.

The study also suggests that advertising be more strongly regulated as young people are more influenced by advertising.

One of the most extreme recommendations is to require an ignition interlock for all offenders who have a BAC higher than the limit. They also suggest that the offender be required to have the ignition interlock for two years for a first-time offender and four years for a second-time offender.

Lastly, they call on organizations to develop an alcohol detection system for all vehicles that would not allow someone to drive if they are above the BAC limit.

My Thoughts?

As I read the report, it will be interesting to see how these recommendations came about. Are they supported by research? Is it data-driven? My hope is that they determined that someone who has a BAC of .05 is just as dangerous as someone who blows a .15 to justify their recommendations. I hope they made the connection between a specific BAC and whether there was a crash or fatality.

The ultimate aim of this report is to reduce the number of alcohol-related driving deaths to zero. That is why some of the recommendations are far-reaching (like an ignition interlock for all offenders and an ignition interlock-like device for every vehicle.) But some of these can be implemented right away, such as the lower BAC limit. As of now, North Carolina has a BAC limit of .08. If changes are made, it should be supported by research and not fear mongering.

In the coming month, I hope to review the 466-page report and provide highlights to everyone in an upcoming blog post.