When talking about drinking and driving laws, the first organization many people think of is MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Yet, that organization has not yet fully endorsed the NTSB's proposal which recommends all 50 states make a .05 blood-alcohol level legally drunk.
Jill Leslie, the Executive Director of MADD's Northeast Florida affiliate, which encompasses Volusia County offered a statement which mirror's the national response.
In part, it reads: "MADD appreciates the National Transportation Safety Board for bringing the American public's attention to the fact that drinking and driving continues to be a major problem on our highways. Above all, MADD strongly recommends that the safest course of action is not to drink and drive."
But the MADD statement is far from an endorsement. Instead, the group's focus "remains on the continued implementation of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving (CEDD)."
CEDD is a three-part approach to curtail drunk driving including "increased high visibility of law enforcement, state laws requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted offenders and research toward the development of advanced technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle."
Daniel Leising is a Daytona Beach attorney specializing in DUI defense. He and others in his profession have a problem with the lower number. Right now, that .05 is key in state law.
“.05 or less, we get to argue there's a presumption that that driver's fine, that they're not impaired. Of course the state can try to counter that with other evidence but that's in the statute and again, it's basically innocent conduct,” Leising said.
Determining what the difference is between .08 and .05 is difficult.
Leising said it could have many people thinking twice about two-for-one happy hours.
“Again, because there are different people, different things in play but it could be a drink or two over the course of an hour that goes from being just fine to drive, with at this lower level a DUI charge,” Leising said.
Leising also wonders with this latest push by the NTSB, how accurate is the method they use to determine what is drunk.
“Again, it has been accepted and it's in our statutes that an 05 or less , it's presumed that you're not impaired. So it just raises some doubts about, you know, these numbers and the type of evidence and the type of data that's being compiled to suggest that these are the correct numbers,” Leising said.
According to the NTSB, .05 is the standard in more than 100 countries. In Europe, for instance, in countries where the .05 has been enacted drunk driving deaths were cut in half in the first 10 years.
Only the individual states can change the drunk driving limits. That last time the limit was reduced, from point-one-oh to point-oh-eight was in 1984.
It took 21 years before all 50 states had that standard in place. Florida's standard was changed in 1994.