May 14, 2013
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending lowering the legal blood-alcohol level from .08 to .05. The organization says the change would save hundreds of lives a year in the United States.
Charlottesville resident Joe Williams is still paying the penalties for his DUI.
"It's very expensive," Williams said.
Williams says he sees the benefits of lowering the legal limit.
"In an effort to keep the roads safe, of course I can understand it," said Williams.
But he says lowering the rate to .05 may keep people away from businesses.
"Who wants to come out and watch a sporting event and you can only have a couple of beers?" said Williams.
Charlottesville Police Lieutenant Ronnie Roberts says, if the limit is lowered, the police department will need some more funding to go with it.
"It would be a strain on any organization on the financial side," said Roberts. "You're dealing with the re-training of those officers as well as being able to refine your skill level of recognizing the impaired person at .05."
Roberts says Virginia officers have been enforcing .08 for a long time, and recognizing someone with less alcohol than that could be a challenge.
"Some people don't show that impairment that have a tolerance to alcohol at .05," Roberts said.
The NTSB says, at .05, most drivers will have vision problems and trouble making decisions. Roberts has certainly seen people who should not be driving at that level.
"They were unable to talk, unable to walk," said Roberts.
And if the limit changes, Roberts says officers will be busy, at first.
"I think that you'll probably see the number of arrests to go up a little bit initially," said Roberts.
The ultimate decision about the legal blood-alcohol level rests with Virginia lawmakers. The NTSB only has authority to make suggestions.