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Does State's Lowered BAC Level Mark Start of a Trend?


What does it take to declare something a trend? We doubt that anyone can claim that there is a clear consensus on an answer. It's not a bad idea to keep your eye out for the possible indicators, however, especially if the movement could have legal consequences for you.

Right now, Tennessee law sets the blood alcohol content threshold for bringing a drunk driving charge against a suspect at 0.08 percent. Under some circumstances, it could be lower than that. And those with experience in defending against impaired driving charges know that a lower bar makes for easier prosecution.

Utah recently enacted a new law that lowers the allowable BAC limit for most drivers to just 0.05 percent. That's the strictest law in the country, but there are other states looking to follow suit and some local law enforcement officials say they would welcome a similar change.

Proponents of lowering the BAC levels say it would reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road, reduce the risk of accidents and save lives. However, some police officials acknowledge that there will be a cost associated with adapting to the change, even before it takes effect at the end of next year.

Most readers would probably agree that Utah's move can't be called the start of a trend. However, that move combined with a National Transportation Safety Board endorsement of countrywide adoption of the lower limit indicates the change could come eventually.

The one thing that anyone facing drunk driving charges can count on is that penalties for being convicted are not going to change, so mounting as strong a defense as possible is advisable.