Lowering BAC level saves lives

Town Cryer

by ALLISON CRYER

Every day, almost 30 people in the U.S. die in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, amounting to one death every 48 minutes.

The cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion annually.

The federal agency responsible for travel safety investigations recently recommended that all states lower the blood-alcohol content (BAC) level for drunken driving. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated the current BAC level of .08 should be lowered to .05 in an effort to reduce the number of deaths in connection to impaired drivers. A woman 120 pounds or less can reach .05 after one drink. That threshold would require two drinks for a man who weighs 160 pounds or more.

I think this is a great idea. Alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for nearly one-third, or 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, in 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

In Jeff Davis Parish, there have been 15 impaired driving-related crashes that resulted in injuries since January, according to Louisiana State University’s Highway Safety Research Group. Also, law enforcement officials here have already made over 50 arrests for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in our parish. While fortunately, there were no fatalities as a result of these particular arrests, I still think the sheer amount of people driving around on our roadways while intoxicated is a little scary – and that’s only the number of folks who got caught by law enforcement.

Of those 50 or so arrested, there were 33 who were charged with first-offense DWI; 11 charged for a second-offense; six charged with third-offense DWI and three were charged with a fourth-offense DWI.

The fines and sentences get worse with each reoccurring offense. According to Louisiana law, on a first conviction, the offender can be fined up to $1,000 and imprisoned for up to six months. On your third DWI, you will spend one to five years in prison, pay up to $2,000, along with a laundry list of treatment programs, electronic monitoring (interlock device) mandates, curfews, community service, meetings and other requirements.

So, basically, it is just not worth it to drink and drive. Aside from the inconvenience you will cause yourself, you are putting innocent people at risk when you decide to get behind the wheel and drive under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol concentration levels as low as .01 have been associated with driving-related performance impairment, and levels as low as .05 have been associated with significantly increased risk of fatal crashes, according to NTSB. So why not lower the threshold? This doesn’t mean you can’t get drunk, you just can’t get drunk and drive.

With so many fun-filled festivals and outdoor activities in our beautiful parish and surrounding areas, it is not a surprise that so many people feel it is simply the culture to drink and drive here. The new law would not stop you from having a beer or glass of wine with dinner, but it will keep those that are impaired off the streets.

Alcohol-related deaths are not accidents – they are crimes. If you knowingly get behind the wheel after drinking, you are putting your own life and the lives of other drivers and passengers sharing the roadways.

Short URL: http://www.jenningsdailynews.net/?p=20304

Posted by on Jun 7 2013. Filed under Editorial Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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