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NTSB Recommends Lowering Drinking Limit to .05

By Ben Rainwater
By brainwater@wbbjtv.com

MILAN, Tenn. - A strong crackdown against drunk driving could be on the way to West Tennessee as federal officials are pushing to lower the DUI threshold.

"I think it's amazing, I really do," said West Tennessean Kourtnee Anderson. "So many drunk drivers impact famies every day because of so many wrecks going on."

The National Transportation Safety Board is asking every state to drop the blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05, aiming to reduce alcohol-related highway deaths.

"It's going to have an impact," said Milan Police Chief Tim Wright. "I don't know how dramatic that impact will be, but you will make the streets safer."

While some agreed with the crackdown against drunk driving, they said the focus should be less about the numbers and more about how the alcohol affects each person's individual ability to drive.

"I think they're too conscious of that number for the legal limit, and not necessarily whether or not the driver is under the influence," said Wright.

"My alcohol level and your alcohol level could be completely different," said Anderson. "Because say, if I'm a bigger person and you're a smaller person, then it's definitely going to affect you more than it affects me.

The extent of the impact remains to be seen, as does whether states will follow the NTSB's suggestion. But if Tennessee does lower its legal blood alcohol level, many believe it will make a significant difference.

"It's definitely going to result in more arrests, more DUI arrests, and probably more convictions," said Wright.

Currently more than 100 countries have adopted the .05 standard. In Europe, the traffic deaths attributed to drunk driving were reduced by more than half within 10 years of adopting the lower standard.