In the United States, everyone knows that a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher means you are above the legal limit. However, few stop to question how or why the government came up with the .08 number or whether this is really a reasonable way to determine when someone is intoxicated.
Our Spartanburg accident lawyers know that other countries and locations throughout the world have different ideas when it comes to drunk driving. For example, according to the International Business Times, one Irish town that recently relaxed its drunk driving laws still has tougher laws than those that exist throughout the United States.
Drunk Driving Limits
According to the International Business Times, the local government in Ireland voted in January to permit people in certain isolated areas to drive after they had consumed a couple of drinks of alcohol.
Politicians in favor of loosening the drunk driving laws expressed the belief that rural residents might want to head out to the pub occasionally and, in fact, that doing so could help to prevent mental illnesses. The politicians argue that these rural drivers were not likely to become involved in crashes on deserted country roads and thus advocated loosening the BAC rules for when they would be considered too drunk to drive back home.
This may sound shocking and dangerous, until you consider the fact that their looser laws are still more stringent than the "strict" laws we have in the United States. Under the new laws in Ireland, for example, drivers are now permitted to drive on rural roads if they have a BAC of up to .07. This gives more leeway than the normal rule that indicates a driver is drunk if he has a BAC of .05. Of course, .07 is still below the legal limit of .08 in the United States.
The BAC requirements have changed over time in the U.S., and for decades the limit was between .10 and .15. However, in 1995, a report was published by National Highway Traffic Safety Administrators indicated that the increase in accidents once a driver has a BAC of .08 or higher is significant. In general, the accident risk directly correlates with drunk driving, going up as the BAC level of the driver rises. However, the increase in crashes rises rapidly after the driver has a BAC above .08.
This study, other scientific studies like it and pressure from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, already brought the BAC limit down from where it was in the past to the current .08 level. When the BAC legislation went into effect and set the bar at .08 to determine illegality, driver deaths in alcohol-related dropped significantly. The exact decline in the number of drunk driving deaths varies from location to location, with a 4 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatality crashes in California as compared with a 40 percent drop in Vermont.
So despite what Ireland is doing with its DUI laws (or may not be doing since the proposition passed by the legal council may actually have no legal status), you can rest assured that the laws in the U.S. have made a difference in keeping people safe. However, a tougher BAC law might do more.