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NTSB calls for lower blood alcohol levels for drivers

The legal status of impairment in New Jersey and nationwide occurs when a driver has a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or higher. The National Transportation Safety Board has deemed this level inadequate for protecting motorists from impaired drivers. In its most recent recommendations for policy improvements, the agency advocated for a new legal blood alcohol content level of 0.05 or lower.

A representative from the agency said that impairment begins before an individual hits the 0.08 mark. Upon reaching the current legal limit, the chances of a person being in a fatal crash doubles. The NTSB cited research that indicated that impairment results for most people with a blood alcohol level of 0.05.

The gender and weight of a person have an effect on how much alcohol could be consumed within legal limits. For example, at the current level of 0.08, a 180-pound man, which is an average male weight, would reach that BAC after consuming four drinks. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.25 ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.

When a person gets pulled over for drunk driving, DWI charges often result. The consequences of a conviction could include fines, jail time and license suspension. The person might choose to work with an attorney to create a defense. To this end, an attorney could scrutinize the police report to see if the officer performed the sobriety tests correctly. Errors in procedure might be grounds to get a case dismissed or charges reduced. Another tactic might be for the attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor. Actions such as enrolling the person in a substance abuse program might gain a less-stringent penalty.

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