In all 50 states in America, drunk driving is a crime. In order to be considered driving under the influence or driving while impaired, your blood alcohol content (BAC) must be at .08 or higher. However, many organizations and states believe that driving is impaired well before your BAC reaches .08. This is why some states, such as New York, have implemented the driving while ability impaired (DWAI) charge. This enforces a punishment if you are caught driving with a BAC of .05-.07. Organizations such as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have recently recommended that states lower the BAC limit from .08 to .05.

Current BAC

At this time, all states in America consider a BAC level of .08 to indicate the level at which a person is impaired from alcohol to the extent that he or she is unable to drive. However, many people claim that ability impairment begins at a much lower blood alcohol content level. The NTSB claims that some drivers have difficulty with visual functions such as depth perception at .05 BAC. Cognitive abilities are also impaired by .07 BAC. For this reason, many other countries consider a BAC of .05 to constitute drunk driving. The United States is one of only a few countries that still considers a BAC level of .08 to be the point at which judgment is impaired and it is not safe to drive. However, studies show that this is not the case.

Future BAC

The risk of getting in an accident if you are driving with a BAC of .05 increases by 39%. If you are driving with a BAC of .08, the risk of getting in an accident increases by over 100%. Many people feel that lowering the BAC limit nationwide will reduce the number of alcohol related deaths in the United States. A similar result occurred in Australia when the government dropped the BAC level to .05 from .08. Traffic fatalities dropped by 5-18% once this law was put into place.

Those who oppose the potential drop in BAC limit feel that a lower BAC limit will not deter drunk drivers from driving. Furthermore, some feel that this move would punish people who drink responsibly and are not engaging in reckless behavior. These people feel that driving is not impaired enough at BAC level .05 to constitute lowering the BAC level for being legally drunk.


Whether the BAC limit is lowered in the United States remains to be seen. However, the NTSB estimates that if all 50 states change their BAC limit to .05, around 1,000 lives can be saved per year. However, the NTSB is merely an investigative agency and has no authority to change laws. Each individual state will have to decide if they want to accept the NTBS’s recommendation or keep the BAC limit. If you have an opinion you’d like to share on the matter, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below or visit our website to contact an attorney.