In the U.S., laws regarding drunk driving are set by the states. However, this does not mean that the federal government plays no role when it comes to drunk driving laws. There are many different methods the federal government sometimes uses to try to influence state drunk driving laws.
One of the more extreme methods the federal government sometimes uses is passing legislation making certain payments by the federal government to the states (such as highway money) contingent upon states bringing their drunk driving laws in line with certain standards. This was the method the federal government used to get states to reduce the legal limit for blood alcohol level while driving to 0.08 percent.
Another, less extreme, measure the federal government sometimes takes to try to influence state drunk driving policy is to make recommendations to states. An example of this has recently occurred.
Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board made a set of recommendations to states regarding drunk driving laws. The most notable of these recommendations is a recommendation to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol level while driving from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.
The NTSB argues that such a lowering of the legal limit could help lower alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities. Opponents of such a lowering of the legal limit argue that it would not do much to curb irresponsible driving, but rather would simply be exposing responsible drivers to criminal charges.
Many interesting questions arise in relation to the NTSB’s recommendation to lower the legal limit to 0.05 percent. How will states react to this recommendation? Will we start seeing states lowering the legal limit to 0.05 percent? Will the federal government, in future years, take further, more aggressive, steps to try to get states to reduce the legal limit?
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think Tennessee should follow the NTSB’s recommendation to lower the legal limit to 0.05 percent?
Source: The New York Times, “States Urged to Cut Limit on Alcohol for Drivers,” Matthew L. Wald, May 14, 2013