Would Lower BAC Limits Help Reduce Alcohol-Related Deaths? (Part 2)

Would lowering the BAC in Michigan help reduce the number of alcohol related deaths?


Hello and thanks for joining us again for this discussion on lowering BAC limits and the effect it could have on alcohol related deaths. In our previous article we looked at the National Transportation Safety Board‘s (NTSB) suggestion that all states lower their BAC limits from .08 to .05. We also shared Rick Berman’s response to this, and the realities about how many (or few) drinks it would take to put an adult over the legal limit.


But has anyone tried it yet? Are there states that have lowered their BAC limits? And if so, what are the results they’ve seen? Well, technically only one state has changed their laws to make .05 their new legal limit, although a couple of others have already got legislation in the works as well. So which state was it? Unsurprisingly, it was Utah.


Earlier this year, Utah became the first state in the US to change their BAC limit to .05, and the change was extremely contentious. Those in favor argued for reduced DUIs and a lower death rate. Those against it, however, prophesied doom and gloom for Utah-based bars and restaurant businesses. In effect, killing Utah’s tourism industry. In reaction to the change, local businesses created a new ad campaign that warns visitors to the state that they will  “Come for vacation. Leave on probation.”


Interestingly, a survey conducted by UtahPolicy.com revealed that 45 percent of Utah’s residents were in favor of the bill, while 51 percent were against it. However, starting in December of 2018, the new law kicks in, and drivers in Utah will have to be very careful when choosing that second glass of wine at dinner. Until then, both Washington state and Hawaii have pending legislation aimed at introducing the same change.


Currently Michigan has no plans to lower our legal limit for drivers. And as a state with a thriving craft beer and wine industry, it’s hard to imagine those changes being well received here. Lower BAC limits haven’t been the only suggestions made to deter drunk drivers and reduce alcohol related deaths over the years. However the more heavy-handed “stricter policies and harsher punishments” approach hasn’t worked thus far. So it’s hard to imagine that making a difference.


One suggestion, made by the Research Society on Alcoholism, is increased police patrols aimed at drunk drivers. Why? Because one of their studies discovered that while the possibility of harsher punishments do nothing to deter drunk drivers, the fear of being caught does. Essentially, if there are more police officers out there at night, between dinner time and last round, people are less likely to risk it.  


According to the study, the reason drunk people got into their cars and drove home, was because they believed that they had a good chance of getting away with it. The fear of being being apprehended and charged made far more of a difference than longer prison sentences and more license points. Their suggestion? If we want to reduce drunk driving, put more officers on the street during peak DUI times and we’ll automatically see a reduction in DUIs.


We don’t know if this will actually solve the problem or not here in Michigan. In the same way that Utah doesn’t have any stats to share yet, because the law hasn’t kicked in yet, so only time will tell. What we do know, however, is that education makes a difference, as do regular reminders to drink responsibly. So take this opportunity to remind all of our readers that the best way to avoid a DUI is to NOT drink and drive!


If it’s too late for that though, and you or a loved one have been arrested for drunk or drugged driving here in Michigan, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorneys can help you protect your future! We have been defending and protecting people accused of operating while intoxicated for decades, and it’s something we’re very good at! So don’t wait!


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