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NTSB recommends lower drunk driving threshold

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WBFO News file photo
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Federal accident investigators are recommending states cut their threshold for drunken driving by nearly half. New York State already has the lowest standard in the nation.

A list of recommendations aimed at reducing alcohol-related highway deaths from the National Transportation Safety Board include cutting the current .08 blood alcohol content to .05.

If Albany goes along, Erie County STOP DWI Director John Sullivan says he is not expecting a big change in the way drinking and driving is viewed and enforced locally because New York's standard begins at .06.

"New York has a two-tiered drunk driving system. At .06 and above you can be charged with driving while impaired," Sullivan says. "And, of course, we share the .08 standard for intoxication with all other 50 states."

A good rule of thumb, Sullivan says, is BAC increases .02 for every drink a man has and .03 for every drink a woman has. Detectable impairment begins at .04.

"Let's be clear...from the first drink we all begin to see our driving abilities deteriorate. So we're best at .00. And if anything can come out of this, I hope it would be that we're best when there's no alcohol. The idea is that if we're going to be doing any kind of drinking, it's best to separate ourselves from the driving task and let someone else do it," Sullivan adds.

According to the NTSB more than 100 countries have adopted the .05 alcohol content standard or lower. In Europe, traffic deaths from drunken driving fell by more than half.

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