The National Transportation Safety Board caused a stir recently when it recommended lowering the blood alcohol level for driving under the influence to .05 percent nationwide. The legal limit in Pennsylvania, as well as in almost every other state, is currently .08 percent. A recent article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other online sources, made some interesting points related to the NTSB’s announcement.
The primary point of the Post -Gazette’s article is that even if the change is made, it would not likely be made soon and could perhaps take decades. Even the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania DUI Association, which supports the lower BAC change, admits that making the change could take "awhile".
You may remember that back in 2003 the Pennsylvania Legislature reduced the legal limit from .10 to .08. Pennsylvania was one of the last states to lower its BAC to .08 and it did so only in response to the federal government’s announcement that if it did not do so, it would lose highway funds. One of the more interesting aspects brought up by the article was that the reduction to .08 percent was the result of a two decade process. One of the primary concerns back then was that the lower limit would target people having drinks with dinner instead of highly intoxicated drivers who cause the majority of DUI-related accidents.
The Post-Gazette article also states that while Pennsylvania is reviewing the NTSB’s recommendation, there are no current plans to lower the standard to .05. Moreover, a recent piece by USA Today states that the Governor’s Highway Safety Association supports the current .08 alcohol threshold, citing that when the limit was at .10 it was very difficult to get it lowered to .08. The Agency also does not expect any state to go to .05 percent.