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Monday, June 3, 2013

A (sort of) defense of the proposed new BAL standard

Blake Gray should lay off the hyperbole pills. Of course his blog views might decline a bit, but his posts might be a bit more believable if he did (I happen to agree with lots of what Blake says, but I don't mind throwing stones at CA writers' hornets nests). Last week, he wrote a few posts about what he called a "Draconian DUI proposal." If you haven't already read about the NTSB's recommendation to create a nationwide 0.05% blood-alcohol level limit that would change the legal drunk driving standard. Gray claims that such a change could "put an end to dining out as we currently know it."

Now, I'm not a proponent of the proposal, but I do know that lowering the BAL from 0.08% to 0.05% would definitely not put an end to dining out. In fact, I am going to make a factless claim that very little would change. The calculation of blood alcohol content is only possible on a case by case basis, so it is hard to say exactly what this lowering of the limit would mean in terms of actual consumption, but as a general estimate only one drink per hour will make a average sized person legally intoxicated whereas currently it takes about two drinks per hour. Perhaps a few law-abiding citizens would order fewer drinks and a restaurant might lose a couple of bucks. Probably not.

A few more people might get pulled over and issued DUI citations, but are the impairment differences between 0.08 and 0.05 really that dramatic that law enforcement officials will notice that many more people driving under the influence? Probably not.

I doubt that the recommendation will see the light of day. After all, the NTSB has no jurisdiction to lower the BAL. That power rests with each state. And since when do all the states get in line and voluntarily do the same thing? Now, if changes in highway funding were tied to lowering the legal limit, then we might see some action.

I am confident that nothing will come of this draconian proposal because it is unpatriotic. I am sure that Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann will rise to the occasion and keep us from turning into Europe. After all, every European country, except for the United Kingdom, have BAL standards at or below 0.05%! And Russia, of all places, has a zero tolerance. Perhaps Palin will be patriotic enough to call for increasing the legal limit back to 0.1% just so we're less like her neighbors across the strait. If you ever watched any of those Russian dash-cam videos on Youtube can make your own assumptions on how the zero-tolerance thing is working out...

So sleep well tonight, Blake, dining out as we currently know it can be taken of the endangered activity list.

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