The National Transportation Safety Board wants states to cut their threshold for drunken driving by nearly half.
Cutting the legal limit from the current .08 to .05 or lower would match a standard adopted by more than 100 countries.
The lower limit in Europe has reduced the number of traffic deaths attributable to drunken driving by more than half within 10 years, according to an NTSB report. In the U.S., the proportion of deaths from accidents involving a drunk driver has remained constant at around 30 percent, even as total highway fatalities have fallen.
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NTSB investigators cited research that showed by .05 BAC, most drivers experience a decline in both cognitive and visual functions, which significantly increases the risk of a serious crash.
"Most Americans think that we've solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it's still a national epidemic," NTSB chair Debra Hersman said in a statement. "On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured."
The lower, .05 limit is just one of 19 NTSB recommendations for stronger laws, enforcement and expanded use of technology.
HOW MANY DRINKS IS .05?
Using the Wisconsin Department of Transportation BAC calculator, a 200 lb man could have three 12 oz. beers in one hour and still be under the .05 limit (estimated .045).
You can estimate your BAC using bodyweight, number of drinks and number of hours at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/drunkdriving/calculator.htm
WisDOT disclaimer: Your actual BAC is dependent on many complex factors, including your emotional and physical condition and health, and what you've recently ingested (including food, water, medications and other drugs). You should not consider this to be a guideline for how much you can drink and still drive responsibly, or avoid being arrested! The best policy is don't drink and drive.