AL lawyers react to NTSB suggestion to lower legal limit - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AL lawyers react to NTSB suggestion to lower legal limit

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Alabama attorneys are reacting to a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board involving DUI laws.

The board is recommending the threshold for drunk driving be lowered from a 0.08 Blood Alcohol Content level, to a 0.05 Blood Alcohol Content level.

Its recommendation comes from a recent study on alcohol-related crashes. That study said about 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving accidents.

The fatality rate has been cut in half from 30 years ago when the legal limit was 0.1, but the NTSB believes that number is still too high. The NTSB said lowering the legal limit will save more lives.

The NTSB cannot change or make new laws, it can only make recommendations to them. Any change to the DUI laws in Alabama would be dictated by state legislators.

Most attorneys agree creating stricter DUI laws will result in more arrests.

The Madison County District Attorney's Office supports the NTSB's recommendation because it would make the roads safer.

"If a law can be passed that would prevent drunk driving, then I think we all should be for it. That is the discussion we should be having, whether it be something in between 0.08 or 0.05, or we actually strengthen the laws we have now. I don't believe the NTSB thinks the DUI levels will go down to a 0.05. I think the positive thing out of this report would be that it ignites a conversation," said Madison County Assistant District Attorney, Jay Town.

However, a Huntsville DUI lawyer said creating stricter laws will result in more wrongful arrests of innocent people.

Phillip Price said a 0.05 BAC level is just too low and that social drinkers will be hit the hardest if this recommendation becomes a law.

A change in any law usually sparks an even tougher crackdown by police. As it is, Huntsville has the highest DUI arrest rate in the state.

If the legal limit is lowered, most attorneys agree some of Alabama's DUI laws and penalties would have to be rewritten. Many of them are based upon specific blood alcohol content levels.

"One of the strange things about this is that our law in Alabama said if your blood alcohol level is 0.05, you are presumed not to be under the influence of alcohol," said Price.

The last time the legal blood alcohol limit was lowered, it took 21 years to implement nationwide.

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