The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently created their annual most-wanted list, which includes a variety of things that the government organization wants or plans to do for the year. In the list, the organization called for every state to move itself to a .05 BAC (blood alcohol content) threshold for the category of drunk driving. Right now, the current legal limit nationally is .08.
The NTSB claims that being impaired while behind the wheel is a significant contributing factor in many vehicle crashes. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of highway accidents, claimed the NTSB. The organization is urging states to focus on a stricter threshold of .05 BAC, as well as increase other countermeasures, such as a high-visibility enforcement.
Variations by State
Just a few short decades ago in 1998, former President Bill Clinton required a national BAC standard because each state had its own regulations, which varied considerably. Many bills were passed, and three short years later in 2001, all states imposed the .08 BAC standard as law or else they lost their federal highway construction funding. Each state does have the right to set stricter laws than the .08 limit, but all 50 states must adhere to the .08 BAC.
On Jan. 1, 2019, Utah was the first state to change to the .05 legal limit and critics saw it as an end to the tourist state. They feared that tourists and diners would avoid them like the plague because they might unknowingly exceed the lowered legal limit and get in trouble.
However, many states have harsher penalties if a driver has a higher BAC than the federal limit. For example, if you meet a judge in Pennsylvania and register with a 0.1 BAC, you’re likely to get hefty fines, jail time, or both, which makes people wary of drinking and driving.