The National Transportation Safety Board advised Tuesday that the U.S. lower the drunken driving limit because the country is way behind others and is too tolerant of driving under the influence.
Citing thousands of people who are killed or injured each year by drivers who have been drinking but are not legally drunk, the NTSB recommended during a hearing in Washington Tuesday that the legal limit be dropped more than a third, from .08 to .05, reducing the risk of a crash by half.
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"It's frustrating that with the education and advocacy, with laws and enforcement and with the many processes set up to deal with the problem of drinking and driving, that we are still seeing so many lives lost," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at the hearing.
The safety board is an advisory body with no authority to make laws or regulations. It issues recommendations to states and U.S. agencies. Each state sets its own driving laws, including defining drunken driving, though Congress has given past safety-board recommendations teeth by tying their adoption to federal highway funds
, according to Bloomberg.
Still, a lowered drunken driving limit would be sure to get pushback from distillers and other businesses in the alcohol industry.
"Moving from .08 to .05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,"
Sarah Longwell, the managing director at the American Beverage Institute, told the New York Times. "Further restriction of moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel."
The U.S. is behind most of the industrialized world, which follows the .05 limit, the NTSB said.
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