Do you know what the legal limit is in Illinois for blood-alcohol content (BAC) while operating a motor vehicle? Most people are aware that an adult over the age of 21 with a non-commercial driver’s license is considered legally intoxicated if his or her BAC equals or exceeds 0.08. The 0.08 limit is the same across the United States. In recent weeks, however, federal safety officials have started pushing for states to reduce the legal to 0.05 in hopes of saving thousands of lives each year.
A Downward Trend
It may seem like the legal limit for presumed intoxication has been 0.08 forever, but the limit was 0.10 in most states until fairly recently. Illinois was among the first to adopt the lower standard, doing so in 1997. Just three years later, then-President Bill Clinton signed a measure that threatened the forfeiture of federal transportation grants for states that did not adopt the 0.08 limit. As one might expect, states were reluctant to miss out on federal funding, and within a few years, all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico enacted legislation to adopt the new standard.
The rationale behind the change was that a lower legal limit would make more people think twice about getting behind the wheel after drinking. In turn, there would be few alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. According to federal safety reports, the plan worked as hoped. In 1999, there were almost 16,000 alcohol-related traffic deaths in the United States. By 2015, that number had dropped to just over 10,000—a decrease of about 37 percent.
New Studies Prompt Renewed Efforts
There is now concern, however, that the drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities has slowed, as the annual number hovers around 10,000 each year. A new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggests that lowering the legal limit from 0.08 to 0.05 could prevent hundreds, if not thousands, of drunk driving-related deaths per year. The study also recommends instituting new rules about when alcohol can be purchased and increasing taxes on alcohol to further reduce fatalities.
As of now, individual states may choose to institute lower standards, and by the end of 2018, the 0.05 standard will go into effect in Utah. Large-scale cooperation, however, is not as likely unless a virtual federal mandate is enacted, similar to the one that effected change nearly two decades ago.
Call Us for Help
If you or someone you love has been arrested on charges of driving under the influence (DUI), you need an attorney who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Will County DUI defense lawyer to discuss your options. Call 815-740-4025 for free, confidential consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.