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Study proposes further reduction in drunk driving threshold

Seattle motorists face stiff penalties for drunk driving charges under state law, and these potential effects escalate rapidly with additional charges. When drivers are stopped for a traffic offense and their blood alcohol concentration is found to be .08 percent or higher, DUI convictions can lead to fines, suspended driver's licenses and potentially incarceration. The limit in Washington is shared with every other state plus the District of Columbia, but a study proposes further lowering the BAC limit to .05 percent.

Written by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the federally funded study notes that there are around 10,000 deaths each year caused by drunk driving and believes that a lowered limit would help to reduce this number. In practice, this newly proposed limit would mean that most men would have to stop at two or three drinks over an evening while most women would need to stop after a maximum of two drinks.

The panel's report also called for a number of other restrictions to crack down on the use of alcohol. It urged the imposition of increased alcohol taxes as well as the restriction of legal hours for the sale of alcoholic drinks at stores, bars and restaurants. Furthermore, it also recommended public health campaigns like those against smoking but targeted at alcohol consumption. Opponents of the recommendations have argued that they will do little to boost roadway safety, as most fatalities are caused by repeat offenders or by motorists with high BAC levels.

People facing drunk driving charges may want to have a criminal defense attorney challenge the allegations. One potential strategy would be to demonstrate that the breath machine was not properly calibrated.

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