Possibility of legal DWI driving limit change in Minnesota

|| May 17, 2013

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended on Tuesday May 14, 2013 that the states reduce the allowable blood-alcohol concentration by more than a third, to 0.05 from 0.08 percent. 

Thousands of people in Minnesota are killed or injured every year by drivers who have not reached the legal standard for being drunk but who have a reduced ability to see. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s perspective, although drivers who are impaired behind the wheel, but not impaired enough to be over the legal limit, are still causing accidents. 

If this recommendation becomes law, it could lead to a potential increase in DWI’s in Minnesota. 

The American Beverage institute stated that reducing the allowable blood alcohol concentration to 0.05 percent could be unfair to the responsible drinkers. 

In addition to the lower legal limit recommendation, the NTSB also recommended to have Breathalyzer interlocked devices installed in the cars of those who have already been convicted of DWI. These devices would require the driver to breath into a machine that would register the blood-alcohol content of the driver. It if registered a certain amount, the car would not start. 

In looking at blood-alcohol concentrations, the level is dependent on factors such as weight, height, and gender.  This affects the situation when figuring out how many drinks is too many before being over the legal limit.

For example, while a 180-pound man can have four drinks in an hour and a half and still be under the 0.08 limit, a 130 pound woman would be over the legal limit if she drank the same amount. Relatively, she could probably drink three beverages during the same time frame. 

If the legal limit were to be reduced, the 180-pound man could probably only have three drinks within 90 minutes and the 130 pound woman could only have two. 

Source: New York Times, “States Urged to Cut Limit on Alcohol for Drivers.” Matthew L. Wald, May 15, 2013.