NTSB: Legal Limit Should Drop To .05% BAC

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Enjoy a wine with dinner?

If the National Transportation Safety Board had its way, you could be second guessing it.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Steven Derestie, of Burlington, about a .05% BAC limit.

On its list of 10 most wanted priorities for 2016, which includes improving rail safety and ending distracted driving, it reads “End Substance Abuse Impairment in Transportation.”

In the eyes of the NTSB, an independent federal agency, that means lowering the legal limit to drive after drinking from .08% to .05% or even lower.

“That would be less than one drink. I just think it’s ridiculous,” said Derestie.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, after three drinks in one hour, a 160 pound man’s blood alcohol content hits .05%.

“It’s not worth it to injure yourself or more so injure someone else,” said David Nyhan, General Manager of Ri Ra Irish Pub in Burlington.

Nyhan is from Ireland, where the legal limit was dropped to .05% in 2011.

In fact, most European countries have lower limits.

But Nyhan says, pubs back home aren’t what they used to be.

“If someone would go and have a couple of beers and then drive home, you now get to the point where it’s only one beer. Some of those rural pubs are slowly starting to disappear,” he said.

He doesn’t think his bar would have the same negative effects, considering its walkability and access to public transportation.

But even if the limit never changes, Vermont police do have the right to charge someone with DUI if there appears to be “impairment to the slightest degree.”

“We do realize that people can become impaired by alcohol under .08% so the law does allow cases like that when there is impairment of somebody below a .08,” said Lt. John Flannagin, Vermont State Police.

The NTSB does not have power to change law, the board simply suggests priorities to state and federal lawmakers.

Vermont State Rep. Bill Lippert (D – Hinesburg) introduced bills in past years to drop the limit to .05%.

But he says, he will not be doing so this session.

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