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Should Florida lower legal limit for drunk driving?

5:56 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
MIAMI - DECEMBER 15: Officer Kevin Millan from the City of Miami Beach police department arrests a woman after she failed a field sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint December 15, 2006 in Miami, Florida. The women failed a breathalyzer test by blowing into the device and receiving two readings one at .190 the other .183, which is twice the legal limit in Florida. The city of Miami, with the help of other police departments, will be conducting saturation patrols and setting up checkpoints during the
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The federal government is asking states to consider lowering the threshold for drunk driving by nearly half.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05.

Drunk drivers kill about 10,000 people a year nationwide. That number has dropped from 18,000 in 1982 as states have adopted the 0.08 standard.

But the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving says 10,000 deaths is still way too high because each drunk driving death is preventable.

Spokeswoman Kristen Allen welcomes the federal recommendation, saying it could prompt a new conversation about drunk driving in Florida.

But Allen says it's unclear if the lower limit would be better than the current 0.08.

"We don't know, .05, we don't know what the research is saying about that. We don't know how these recommendations came about. It at least gets the dialogue about drunk driving and what we're seeing on the highways of the number of fatalities and injuries that drunk driving causes. So it brings to the forefront we need to be having this conversation."

The Florida Legislature would have to pass a bill to lower the drunk driving limit to 0.05.

That seems unlikely.

This spring, lawmakers did not act on a bill that would have required all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device. It forces a driver to blow into the equipment and would prevent a car from starting if the person has been drinking and records a 0.05 blood alcohol level or higher.

Currently under state law, only drunk drivers who record a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher, or multiple offenders, are required to have the interlock device installed at their own expense.

MADD is pushing for all DUI offenders to get an interlock device or have their license suspended.

Allen believes Florida could have a bigger impact against drunk driving by passing such an interlock law and raising the visibility of law enforcement's drunk driving prevention efforts.

"I think if we strictly enforce the 0.08 law we're going to see more fatalities and injuries drop," Allen said. 

First Coast News

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