The federal National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) today voted unanimously to recommend a nationwide reduction of the “legal limit” in DUI cases from 0.08 to 0.05. To illustrate what an extreme drop this would be, one is presumed sober under current Virginia law if his blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is below 0.05.
Many people can reach a BAC of 0.05 with one to three drinks. Since few can tell when they are 0.05 versus 0.04, the practical implication of this new standard would be a ban on driving after a glass or two of wine with dinner.
The current Virginia DUI “legal limit” is 0.08, but one can be convicted of DUI with a lower BAC (or no BAC) if a person has drunk enough alcoholic beverages to observably affect his manner, disposition, speech, muscular movement, general appearance or behavior.
The NTSB is an advisory board and cannot on its own change any state or federal law. However, the last time the “legal limit” was uniformly reduced to 0.08, the federal government mandated that all states lower their DUI threshold to 0.08 or lose 8% of their federal highway funds. Unsurprisingly, all the states complied. Will Virginia lower its BAC to 0.05? If it faced a reduction in needed federal roads money, it would be very likely.