Advocates call for reducing legal BAC limit

New York's blood alcohol concentration limit of .08 percent is identical to that of 48 other states and the District of Columbia. However, Utah has passed new regulations that lower the legal limit to .05 percent, a significant reduction. Some polls show that most Americans support further reductions in the BAC limit in an attempt to reduce accidents. Every day, an average of 29 people lose their lives in car crashes connected to drunk driving with costs rising to over $44 billion annually.

There is a great deal of debate about the most effective ways to reduce the risks of drunk driving. Some reformers have urged reduction in BAC limits as well as the use of widespread sobriety checkpoints and the installation of ignition interlocks, which are devices that prevent a car from moving if the driver is over the legal limit. One poll showed that 55 percent of Americans supported a reduction to .05 from .08, the widespread national standard. The National Transportation Safety Board says that drivers are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash with a BAC of .05 to .079 than if they were completely sober.

However, others have criticized the Utah legislation. Some say that it will turn responsible, safe drinkers into criminals. Others said that a smaller number of drivers with higher levels of intoxication were responsible for more serious accidents, rather than larger numbers of people who had consumed only a small amount of alcohol.

When people are arrested on drunk driving charges, they could face severe consequences if they are convicted, including hefty fines, probation or even jail time. A criminal lawyer may work with people facing DUI charges to present a defense before trial and in the courtroom, possibly by challenging police evidence to avoid a conviction.

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