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American Beverage Institute slams NTSB recommendation to lower DUI limit

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Restaurant Group criticism of lowering the DUI legal limit raises important questions

lowering the DUI legal limitThe Hill reported on January 14, 2016 that the American Beverage Institute (ABI), a restaurant lobbying group, is outraged at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) call to lower the legal limit for per se DUI alcohol from 0.08 grams to 0.05 grams. More than a decade ago, the ABI spokesperson was quoted, Mothers Against Drunk Driving used the excuse of a reduction in fatalities as a reason to lower the legal limit from 0.10 grams to 0.08 grams yet the rate of DUI fatalities did not decrease. This proposal is aiming to criminalize drivers who go to dinner and consume two or three glasses of wine with dinner. In fact, statistically fatalities actually rose after the implementation of the 0.08 limit which some attributed to scarce police resources being devoted to stopping, testing and taking drivers to jail for up to 2 hours who head home earlier in the evening than drivers at higher levels who tend to leave bars later in the evening and cause more injuries and deaths. The average blood alcohol in DUI fatalities is 0.17 grams. Further, if you look at the raw data of Standard Field Sobriety Validations Field Studies, the mean alcohol concentration was 0.16 grams. Another issue is if a federal mandate to reduce the alcohol legal limit from 0.08 grams to 0.05 grams is even Constitutional after the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Secretary of HHS otherwise known as the Obamacare decision which held that the federal government's threat to decrease medicaid funding if a state did not implement Obamacare was unconstitutional. The same argument could be applied to the threat to reduced or eliminate federal highway funds of states who resist federal efforts to reduce the legal limit by coercive federal legislation and rule making. 

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