Blood Alcohol Content The thought of alcohol being involved in fatal crashes brings about an emotional response. Recently, there has been a movement based on emotion rather than logic to change a certain drinking and driving law. This involves lowering the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from 0.10% to 0.08% nationwide. However, this attention is misdirected. By looking at my personal experiences, statistics, and current laws, it is clear that there is no need for lowering the BAC.
First off, I do not drink. Yet, I’ve had many experiences relating to drinking and driving through my friends. One thing I’ve noticed is that it is extremely hard for people to tell if they are legally drunk or not. Furthermore, I have never heard any of my friends say that they feel that they should drive home because they have only a .09% BAC. The law has very little effect on how many drinks a person decides to consume. Therefore, lowering the legal drunk limit will not result in people acting more responsible. Supporters of lowering the BAC like Judith Lee Stone in her essay “YES!” think they are targeting the problem of drunken driving, but the real problem lies within the higher BACs.
Ninety three percent of fatal accidents are 0.10% BAC and above, and half of those ninety three percent have a BAC of 0.20% and above. The average BAC for fatal accidents is at actually at 0.17%. This seems like a more logical target for new laws then 0.08%. Furthermore, Stone asks “Who would want their children in a car driven by someone who has consumed three, four, or even more beers in an hour” (Stone 46)? I couldn’t agree more. However, this common argument from the pro-0.08% side is more like a parent responsibility question.
They use this to manipulate our emotion by putting an innocent child in an improbable and unrelated situation. She also goes on to state, “A study at Boston University found that 500 to 600 fewer highway deaths would occur annually if all states adopted 0.08%” (Stone 47). On the other hand, a similar study at University of North Carolina shows no significant change after their adoption of 0.08%. Which study is correct? Most likely, both have some truthfulness. It could be either way depending on the state.
The lowering of the Blood Alcohol Content percentage law is unnecessary and useless. Nevertheless, some states have already moved to the 0.08%, and we hear the argument: “It makes no sense for a driver to be legally drunk in one state but not in another” (Stone 46). To that, I ask a couple questions of my own. Why can I carry a concealed gun in one state and not another? Why is it that I can drive a certain speed in one state, but a different speed in another? The response to those questions and Stone’s statement is all of the above are state laws. At this point, the federal government seems to get confused.
In October 2000, congress passed a law that uses the states’ money against them. It asserts that if a state doesn’t lower its BAC percentage to 0.08% by 2003, it will lose two percent of its highway money. States that don’t like the law will be forced to vote for it because they are desperate for highway construction money. Strings shouldn’t be attached to this money. What are lost in all of this are the current laws for drunk driving. Driving while impaired is already illegal whether the person tests 0.04% or 0.10%. Courts can use alcohol test of 0.04% and higher as evidence of impairment.
It’s at 0.10% where a person is legally drunk and cannot legally operate a vehicle. Therefore, it’s not as if people who test 0.08% are going unpunished like the other side would have you believe. In conclusion, anybody who picks out one particular aspect and says that it is not working hasn’t looked that the whole problem. The president for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Brian O’ Neill, says that he’d rather see resources directed toward enforcing existing drunken driving laws. Hopefully, with more education, more awareness, and more enforcement we can successfully reduce drinking and driving fatalities. Bibliography Stone, Judith Lee.
Yes!. Reading and Writing Short Arguments. Ed. William Vesterman. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000. 46-47.