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Science panel recommends reducing drunk driving threshold

Ohio should lower its drunk driving threshold, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report, which was commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recommends lowering the legal blood alcohol content limit nationwide.

Currently, the legal limit is .08 percent in all 50 states, although Utah has passed a law that will drop the state's limit to .05. It goes into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. The report is recommending that all other states lower their limits to .05 as well. That would mean most women would reach the legal blood-alcohol limit after consuming two drinks, and most men would reach it after two or three drinks.

The purpose of the report was to find ways to reduce or eliminate the estimated 10,000 alcohol-related traffic deaths that occur around the country annually. According to the National Academies, drunk driving deaths still account for 28 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths and are preventable. An average of about 29 people lose their lives in these types of car crashes each day across the country, and 40 percent of those fatalities are victims of an impaired driver. In addition to lowering the legal limit, the report recommends sharply increasing alcohol taxes and reducing the availability of alcohol. The alcohol and restaurant industries are expected to oppose the recommendations.

Individuals facing drunk driving charges may be able to help their situation by retaining a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In some situations, an attorney could work to get the charges dismissed. In other circumstances, legal counsel may advise negotiating a plea bargain that reduces the charges, which could lead to a more favorable outcome for the defendant.

Source: NBC New York, "Science Panel Backs Lower Drunken Driving Threshold", Joan Lowy, Jan. 17, 2018

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