The BAC limit across the United States is 0.08 percent. When you go over that limit, you can get arrested for drunk driving. Now, you can also get a DUI even when you are under the limit — if the alcohol clearly impairs your ability to drive or if you work as a commercial driver, for instance. But most people look to that 0.08 percent limit as the amount they do not want to exceed.
Is that going to change? Some people believe it should be lowered, perhaps as far as 0.05 percent.
That was the suggestion made earlier this year after a study carried out by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. They think that dropping the limit to 0.05 percent would reduce the number of drunk driving accidents every year.
Not drinking at all
Proponents of the change say that people would have to reconsider their drinking habits. Right now, they may still feel like they can drink a little bit and drive safely. If the limit were lower, though, they may have to consider not drinking at all.
Setting it low enough that a single beer could put someone on the wrong side of the law may cause people to stay completely sober. In theory, this may reduce instances of accidental drunk driving when someone goes over the limit without realizing it.
Drunk driving and getting caught
Another argument often made about drunk driving is that people usually do it multiple times before getting caught. In that sense, the arrest numbers do not really tell the whole story. Would lowering the limit keep impaired drivers off of the road?
Of course, one could argue that someone who is going to drive while intoxicated is probably going to do it no matter what the limit is. While lowering it may lead to more arrests and more work for the police, it may not actually change the way people drive. Someone with a BAC of 0.10 percent could get arrested either way, so it would not matter where lawmakers set the limit.
Pushing for change
That said, there is speculation that studies like this could push lawmakers to ask for a change. We are not likely to ever see Prohibition again, but strict alcohol laws could show up in the future. A significant shift, like lowering the legal limit, could have a drastic impact on people’s rights. It is important for everyone to keep an eye on any future legislation to fully understand what behaviors are expected, or prohibited.
At the same time, if someone does get arrested, they need to know their legal rights and defense options. That remains true, regardless of the BAC limit in Pennsylvania or around the country.