Despite stricter DUI penalties, more aggressive law enforcement strategies and enormous expenditures on public awareness campaigns, drunk drivers still cause approximately 10,000 fatalities and 170,000 injuries annually, which amount to one-third of all traffic crash-related deaths. This high toll in bodily injuries and fatalities has led many traffic safety advocates to argue that additional steps are necessary to prevent alcohol-related accidents in Florida and across the U.S. Our Miami personal injury lawyers have been following a proposal that the .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for finding a driver is intoxicated be reduced.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that the .08 percent BAC level be lowered by nearly half to .05 percent. The federal agency cannot require such changes, but it can make recommendation that can be adopted by other states. The federal government often offers financial incentives to prompt state compliance. Currently, all fifty states have established .08 BAC as the legal threshold at which a driver is presumed to be too intoxicated to drive. According to the NTSB, the change would save an estimated 1,000 lives per year along with preventing many other injuries. Research cited by the agency indicates that motorists experienced a decline in vision, reaction time, reflexes, and cognitive brain activity if they have a .05 percent BAC.
The agency has also recommended that all drivers convicted of DUI be compelled to install an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID requires motorists to blow into a portable breath testing device installed in the vehicle, which prohibits the engine from starting unless a breath test reveals the driver has a BAC significantly below the legal limit. While Florida forces many drivers convicted of DUI to install an IID, the requirement is left to the discretion of the judge for a first time DUI unless a child passenger was in the vehicle or the driver had a BAC of .15 percent or above.
Restaurant trade groups and the alcohol beverage industry have criticized the traffic safety proposal. These organizations contend that the approach punishes drivers who are engaging in perfectly safe and responsible behavior. They further argue that the proposal would have little impact because motorists who cause the majority of alcohol-related accidents are hardcore offenders with high BAC levels. However, the country of Australia reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic fatalities when it reduced the legal blood alcohol level from .08 to .05 percent. Further, the NTSB indicates that a driver with a BAC of .05 percent presents a 39 percent higher risk of being involved in a car crash than a driver with no alcohol in his or her system.
While the proposal might seem like a radical change for many in the U.S., lower BAC levels for drunk driving are common in other countries. While the U.S., Iraq and Canada have .08 BAC levels, most countries in Europe, including Russia, Australia and the majority of South America have imposed a .05 BAC level as the legal limit for drunk driving.
Our Florida personal injury law firm lauds attempts to make our state’s roads safer because we see the tragic consequences of alcohol impaired drivers far too often. While it is still unclear whether the NTSB recommendations will be followed, we commend efforts to prevent life-altering car accident injuries and deaths.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Caused by Drunk Drivers
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, our Miami DUI Drunk Driving Injury Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.