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13 years ago, states were encouraged to set their legal blood-alcohol limits to .08, or they would risk losing a substantial amount of their federal highway funds. Now, with drunk driving making up one-third of all traffic-related deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is asking that the legal blood-alcohol limit be lowered to .05. With all of the recent fatalities in the Seattle area this year, from the tragic deaths of the brand-new grandparents in Wedgwood to the killing of the long-time Eddie Bauer employee on 520, it seems like this might be the best next step.

Drunk driving has frequently been called a “national epidemic” and the lowering of the legal blood-alcohol limit may help contribute to a cure. Many drivers who are not considered legally drunk at levels of .08 are actually unfit to drive, despite the legality. According to a NTSB report, “…by the time a driver’s BAC reaches .08, his or her fatal crash risk has at least doubled, and some studies indicate it may be many times higher.”

Currently, this recommendation is only one of 19 recommendations that the NTSB made in an effort to lessen drunk driving. Others include widespread use of in-vehicle devices that do not allow impaired persons to start their cars, as well as high-visibility enforcement.

What is your take on lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit to .05? Do you think that it is a necessary change that needs to be made or that the NTSB is taking it too far?

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