Impaired driving is still legal in most states while drunk driving is not – and the difference between them is .03 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is attempting to lower the rate of impaired driving by lowering the legal BAC from .08 to .05. This is because impaired driving still causes a high number of deaths each year. The NTSB estimates that 800 lives a year could be saved by lowering the BAC so people can no longer consume several drinks before driving.
According to the NTSB, a 180-pound male reaches a .08 BAC after having four drinks within an hour. Therefore 2-3 drinks over an hour would result in a .05 BAC for the same male. If passed, the US would be in line with other countries like Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland who have already lowered their legal BAC to a .05 and below.
Drunk and impaired driving is prevalent in Florida and Palm Beach County in particular – in 2010 there were 1,561 DUI convictions in the county and that number is predicted to have gone up in recent years. Florida already has stricter drunk driving laws than in most states. They have the Implied Consent Law, whereby signing your drivers license means you consent to drunk driving tests. If you refuse a breathalyzer, you automatically have your license suspended for one year.
Florida also has zero tolerance for drivers under 21 – making the NTSB’s .05 proposal seem generous. If a driver under 21 has a BAC of .02 or higher, their license is automatically suspended for 6 months. Therefore they literally can’t consume any amount of alcohol before driving. Also, the penalties for getting a DUI in Florida are valued at around $8000.
Often, a DUI is a wake up call for those who are struggling with alcohol abuse. When young adults and adults drive despite the consequences of drunk driving, it may indicate a problem with alcohol. If you or a loved one is concerned with alcohol abuse, we have alcohol treatment programs in Florida that can help.