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Lower BAC for Drunk Driving on the Way?

Jul 31 | 2013  by

According to the release of the Michigan Annual Drunk Driving Audit, the number of drunk driving arrests in Michigan increased in 2012, as did the number of fatalities and injuries. 

Last year, the state made 37,182 alcohol- and drug-related driving arrests.  Deaths resulting from drug and alcohol-induced crashes increased 7.2%, from 319 in 2011 to 342 in 2012.  Non-fatal injuries also increased.

While there was an increase last year, the overall trend in Michigan is positive – over the past 5 years, the number of traffic deaths involving alcohol has decreased 11.4%.

However, many believe Michigan’s drunk driving numbers are still too high, and more needs to be done to deter this conduct.  For instance, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its May 2013 Safety Report and advocates for decreasing the per se Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit from 0.08 to 0.05.

According to the report, studies have shown that a decrease in the BAC limit down to 0.05 reduces traffic fatalities by 8-12% for people ages 18-49.  In fact, more than 100 countries have established maximum per se BAC limits at or below 0.05 – including 25 of the 27 EU member countries.  Many traffic safety and public health organizations view BAC levels higher than 0.05 as posing an unacceptable risk for driving.

Opponents to the lower BAC limit point out that the majority of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes have BAC levels significantly higher than 0.08.  However, according to the NTSB, lowering the per se BAC limit changes the drunk-driving behavior of drivers at all BAC levels.  As a consequence, reducing the limit could reasonably be expected to have a broad deterrent effect on all drivers. 

Whether the BAC limit gets lowered is in the hands of the legislature; however, despite NTSB’s recommendation, there are no pending bills taking such action.  If you are facing drunk driving charges, or have questions regarding the law, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Mark Mandell at (248) 380-0000 or online.