OPINION|Phil Paleologos: Lowering Blood Alcohol Level No-Win
According to a recent Associated Press story, the government commissioned a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to investigate whether lowering the blood alcohol limit or BAC will do anything to reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths.
In its 489-page report, the panel recommended for states to significantly lower their drunken driving thresholds from .08 to .05 to prevent 10,000 alcohol-impaired driving deaths each year. That's a hard one to gulp. I don't believe that lowering the legal limit to .05 will do much to reduce drunk driving fatalities nationwide.
Most men and women would have to stop after two drinks and larger guys at three. That's not realistic in today's society. Plus this esteemed panel recommended that states significantly jack their booze taxes and make alcohol less convenient by reducing hours and days alcohol can be sold in stores, bars, and restaurants. Was anyone sober on this panel? They ended by saying states doubling their alcohol taxes could lead to an 11-percent drop in traffic crash deaths.
All this does is bully a favorite target, namely the social drinkers. And truth be told, this crusade isn't new. In 2013, the National Traffic Safety Board made a similar recommendation. When Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) heard about this, they refused to support such a notion, calling it impractical and a waste of time. So do I.
Lowering the legal limit to .05 will do hardly anything to reduce traffic fatalities because only about 1 percent of alcohol-related deaths involve a driver with a BAC between .05 and .08.
The only thing the lowering of the legal limit would do is generate huge fines and higher insurance premiums for years.
(Editor's Note: Phil Paleologos is the morning host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6-10 a.m. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.)