Why is there a Push to Lower the SC DUI Limit to .05?

by | Jan 23, 2018 | DUI |

Do you think you’re OK to drive after just one drink? You probably are – for now.

But, a group of researchers has added its weight to a creeping movement aimed at lowering the legal blood alcohol limit to .05.

In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board urged states to adopt this lower BAC standard. Utah became the only state to do so last year, and the move proved so unpopular that even the governor has tried, unsuccessfully, to walk it back.

Last week, a research group from the National Academy of Sciences said the lower limit would save lives. But, like other advocates of the .05 limit, they have provided no scientific evidence to back up the claim.

If there is no evidence to support the claim that a .05 limit would keep us safe from drunk drivers, what’s the point behind it?

Why is There a Push for a .05 DUI Limit?

The original intent behind creating blood alcohol limits was good. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) led the way in the fight against drunk driving, which took tens of thousands of lives and was clearly a public safety issue that needed to be addressed.

The anti-DUI effort succeeded – society’s attitudes toward drunk driving have shifted dramatically, every state has passed per-se laws that make it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08, and the number of alcohol related crashes and highway deaths has gone down significantly over the past few decades.

Success! But, what now?

How Do You Stay Relevant After Reaching Your Goal?

With MADD again leading the way, the movement seems to have turned toward a new goal – outright prohibition of alcohol, or at least a total ban on driving after consuming any amount of booze.

There is a precedent. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the “temperance” movement pushed for ways to limit alcohol consumption in the United States and make Americans safer. As they succeeded, many of these activists made it clear that they had a more ambitious goal, one that they accomplished with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, which banned alcohol.

It was, of course, a disaster that led to increased crime, corruption, and other social ills, and was repealed 13 years later.

It’s Not About Safety, It’s About Money

The problem is, lowering the limit to .05 and the resulting increase in the number of DUI charges would do nothing to combat drunk driving.

Most alcohol-related crashes involve a BAC of .15 or higher. Lowering the limit to .05 will do nothing more to keep these drivers off the road than a limit of .08. But it will result in many people being charged with DUI after having only one drink.

So why would government officials push for ever-stricter limits on alcohol?

  • The government would make more money in the form of fees and fines because far more people would be charged with DUI;
  • Politicians would be appeasing law enforcement, victim’s advocate, and other groups who are incrementally attempting to move DUI laws to zero tolerance; and
  • Law enforcement agencies, MADD, and other groups would receive more grant money based on the increased number of arrests.

Most adults would easily pass field sobriety tests with a BAC of .05, because they would not be impaired. It doesn’t make sense to charge these people with DUI, but it would make a lot of dollars for law enforcement agencies, governments, and attorneys.

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Our Myrtle Beach DUI defense lawyers at Coastal Law stay current on developments in SC DUI laws and DUI trends nationwide so that we can better serve our clients and our community.

If you have been charged with DUI in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Charleston, or Columbia SC, call now to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.

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