Feds push to lower BAC limit in Virginia

Many argue reducing the current BAC limit of 0.08 would make even having one drink with dinner impossible.

It doesn't take many drinks to become over the limit to drive. For an average man, three drinks in one hour can lead to charges for driving under the influence. For a woman, it can be even less, depending on the type of drink and other factors.

Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is encouraging Virginia to reduce the threshold even further, trying to make it so that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration level .05 would be presumed to be too intoxicated to drive. Currently, all 50 states presume that a driver with a BAC of .08 or greater is too intoxicated to drive.

On Wednesday, September 3, NTSB Mark Rosekind again made a pitch to state legislators claiming that the current BAC limit is too high. However, it is unclear whether Virginia will ultimately take the suggestion and make it into law. The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal agency that investigates transportation accidents; however, it has no power to legislate new rules at either the state or federal level.

The American Beverage Institute has argued strenuously against making any changes. "It would essentially make it impossible for women to drink anything with their meals" when eating out, a spokesperson for the restaurant trade group told news organizations.

The NTSB has not yet received approval from the national offices of AAA or MADD. Many state lawmakers are also expected to be reluctant to lower the BAC limit. Constituents and legislators themselves may have a glass of wine or beer when having dinner. Reducing the BAC limit would increase the number of DUIs in Virginia and could significantly hurt restaurants and bars in the state.

Over the limit still means trouble

While it is not expected that Virginia will lower the legal BAC limit any time soon, Virginia state officials and law enforcement take drunk driving seriously. Last year the number of fatalities in Virginia caused by drunk driving grew for the first time in six years. Governor Terry McAuliffe unveiled a new website, Virginia Faces of Drunk Driving, meant to combat DUI in Virginia. The website shows pictures of the consequences of DUI accidents, including before and after pictures of those affected by DUI - estimated by the Governor's Office to be as many as one in three Virginians who have either had a DUI or been in an accident with a drunk driver.

People charged with a DUI face a host of potential consequences, including jail time, steep fines, loss of driving privileges and others. If the worst happens and someone is injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, the penalties ratchet up considerably.

Drivers charged with a DUI have a lot at stake, which is why getting the representation of an experienced DUI attorney is so invaluable. Whether contesting the charges or negotiating with prosecutors, an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Boyce & Leahy can help those facing charges defend their rights and potentially limit the serious and lasting consequences of a DUI.

Keywords: DUI, Virginia, DUI penalties