Beverage group slams NTSB call for lower DUI limit

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The American Beverage Institute (ABI) is criticizing the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) call for lowering the legal alcohol limit for drivers. 

The NTSB included a proposal of lowering the legal alcohol limit for U.S. drivers from .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .05 percent in its annual "Most Wanted" list that was released on Wednesday. 

The beverage institute, which represents restaurants that serve alcohol, said Thursday the proposal to lower the alcohol limit is "ridiculous" and will not stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel."

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"Instead of targeting the heavily intoxicated drivers who cause most fatal drunk driving crashes, the NTSB wants to penalize responsible adults who enjoy one or two drinks with dinner," ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell said in a statement that was provided to The Hill. 

"More than a decade ago, we lowered the legal limit from 0.1 percent to 0.08 after groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving promised a huge drop in fatalities," she continued. "Yet the proportion of traffic fatalities caused by drunk drivers has remained the same for the past 15 years. Why would moving to .05 suddenly stop truly drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel? The fact is, it won’t." 

The NTSB said in its wish list that lowering the alcohol limit would "reduce deaths and injuries on highways," although it acknowledged that "drugs other than alcohol can also impair drivers and operators of other types of vehicles — whether these drugs are recreational, over-the-counter, or prescription." 

"When it comes to alcohol use, we know that impairment begins before a person’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent, the current legal limit in the United States," the agency said. "In fact, by the time it reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That is why states should lower BAC levels to 0.05 — or even lower." 

Other items on the NTSB's wish list include recommendations about changes to federal regulations of U.S. railways and transit systems. 

The NTSB's full 2016 Most Wanted list can be viewed here