The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently recommended that states should lower the DUI/DWI limit from 0.08% to 0.05%. While some people may tout this as public safety measure, the reality is that lowering the BAC limit will do little—if anything—to make our roads safer.
One of the main concerns with this measure is the poor way the current laws are being enforced. We constantly hear of blood and breath testing scandals from all over the country and the large volumes of cases that are affected. Whether it is non-calibrated equipment or bad lab practices, bad testing leads to false charges and false convictions.
Compounding the problem further is the extent of the penalties for a DWI conviction. Even a first offense DWI in NJ carries thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges, up to 30 days in jail and a license suspension. Lowering the limit with these bad testing procedures still in place means that more innocent people will be thrashed by these severe penalties.
There is a lot of politics surrounding drunk driving laws in the United States. There are powerful lobbies that push for stricter penalties and lower limits, all in the name of public safety. While making our roads safer for our families and ourselves is something that concerns us all, we have to ensure that the measures we take are the right measure, not just what’s popular.
First things first: we need to clean up DWI testing. Too many innocent people are getting convicted and being subject to penalties that will last them a lifetime. Let’s ensure we are enforcing the current laws correctly before lowering the limits.