The National Transportation Safety Board has a proposal: Reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from the current value of .08% to a newly proposed limit of .05%—and save half the roughly 10,000 people killed annually by drunk driving on U.S. highways.
How would this impact drinkers? Well, according to a New York Times story:
“Blood-alcohol concentration varies by body weight, gender, stomach contents and other factors, but generally speaking, a 180-pound man could consume four beers or glasses of wine in 90 minutes without reaching the current limit. At a limit of 0.05 percent, he could legally consume only three. A 130-pound woman could probably consume three drinks in 90 minutes and be legal under the existing standard; if the limit were lowered, she could consume only two.”
You’d think this might be an easy sell. But of course, it won’t be. Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have already said that while they would not oppose the recommendation, they won’t support it, either.
And then there’s the very NRA-like reaction from Sarah Longwell, managing director of American Beverage Institute:
“This recommendation is ludicrous. Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior. Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”
Of course it doesn’t. But that’s an obvious straw man argument. What it would do is greatly reduce the likelihood that the non-hardcore drunk drivers would end up killing 5,000 people every year. The hardcore drunk drivers would still carry on drinking to excess, and causing their share of fatalities.
Drink a little less before driving. Kill 5,000 fewer people per year. It doesn’t really sound all that ludicrous to me. But I’m guessing my Libertarian friends will point out the errors in my thinking.