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New Jersey to toughen drunk driving laws?

The National Transportation Safety Board proposes that states slash their legal threshold for blood-alcohol levels for drivers. In New Jersey, the current standard is 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content (BAC).

The result of a lowered BAC standard, the NTSB says, will be fewer drunk driving accidents, fewer injuries to innocent people, and fewer fatalities on our nation's highways.

The federal safety board says that lower standard has already proven effective at saving lives in other countries. More than 100 nations have the 0.05 percent standard, or an even lower one.

In Europe, the 0.05 percent standard is credited with reducing drunk driving accident fatalities by more than half within a decade since the threshold was adopted.

NTSB officials say they don't want to stop people from having a glass of wine with their dinners, but they do urge people who have consumed any alcohol to abstain from driving.

Research shows that a BAC of just 0.01 percent impairs a driver's abilities; a level of 0.05 percent has been linked to significant increases in the risks of accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The chair of the NTSB said, "Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable."

She said alcohol-impaired fatalities "are not accidents, they are crimes" that should be, and can be prevented.

An official with the Governors Highway Safety Association says the proposal will likely meet strong oppostion from states, noting that it took a significant amount of arm-twisting by the federal government to get all states to comply.

Even stiffer opposition is expected from the alcohol beverage industry.

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 7,000 lives could be saved per year if the BAC threshold is lowered to 0.05 percent.

Those who have been injured by a drunken driver should speak with an attorney about their legal options.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "Tougher drunken driving threshold recommended," May 14, 2013

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