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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Changing legal BAC level is step in right direction

Following a grueling week of stress, many students fill their weekend with loud music, long nights and a liquid getaway found in a red Solo cup.

But the fun of Thirsty Thursday can come to a screeching halt when you’re pulled over by a police officer. You are under the impression that your alcohol to blood ratio is well under the legal limit, and you consent a breathalyzer test.

With higher than legal alcohol concentration in your blood, you must deal with the consequences of drinking and driving. These consequences are implemented and executed with one intention: to keep people safe.

On May 14, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed the legal blood alcohol concentration level should be reduced to ­0.05 percent, as opposed to the current legal limit of 0.08 percent.

In 2011, the NTSB Fatality Analysis Reporting System estimated a total of 9,878 deaths caused by accidents resulting from alcohol-impairment. This number represents 31 percent of all recorded vehicle fatalities in the United States.

NTSB made this proposal in the hopes of eliminating unnecessary deaths on the road as a result of drinking and driving. The key word here is unnecessary.

Obviously, people will make their own decisions and judgments regardless of the law. However, reducing the legal BAC percent will deter law-abiding citizens from consuming any alcohol before they hit the road.

The difference may seem trivial but the recommendation provides a study that explains the types of impairment that are experienced with specific BACs.

In the 0.05 to 0.059 percentile, at least 50 percent of the behavioral tests showed consistency in tracking impairment, which is the ability to scan surroundings while driving.

A difference of 0.03 percent may seem miniscule but even the smallest amount increases the risk of an accident, which could potentially be the difference between life and death.

David Salafsky, director of Health Promotion & Preventive Services at the UA, stated that the recommended BAC of 0.05 percent would affect people in the community.

As for the university, Salafsky suggested that the 0.05 percent BAC wouldn’t have a huge effect on students, as recent studies have shown that students are making better decisions in regards to drinking and driving.

According to UA’s Health and Wellness survey 89 percent of students use a designated driver when they drink and 84 percent decide not to drive after they have consumed any amount of alcohol.

Standing alone, these statistics are a testimony to the fact that the goal the NTSB holds for the country is achievable with time, and the proper safety regulations.

In terms of safety precautions, Salafsky said, “It is important to understand your BAC and how that’s unique to you.”

BAC is determined by an individual’s height, weight, gender and the amount of time in which the alcohol is consumed. Every students BAC level is different, and knowing how much alcohol it takes to surpass the legal limit will help students maintain their safety if they do make the decision to drink and drive.

Lowering the legal limit is another change needed in order to eliminate the injuries and fatalities that result from drinking and driving.

— Casey Knox is a sophomore studying journalism. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @knox_casey

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