HOUSTON - The National Transportation Safety Board recommended states institute tougher new limits for how much alcohol people can legally drink before they get behind the wheel, and locals reacted differently to the recommendation. The NTSB proposed lowering the drunk driving threshold from a .08 BAC to .05.
The agency said that one change could prevent about a thousand deaths a year, but some people impacted by drunk driving crashes said they believe it's still not enough. Carol Levin lost her 27-year-old son, Todd, in a drunk driving crash and is now a board member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"I appreciate that people want to help and see that there is a problem," said Levin. "That is really huge. But I just don't think this is the answer because it lessens it -– it doesn't get rid of it."
The executive director of Southeast Texas' MADD organization told Local 2 it took 20 years to get all states to lower the threshold to the current .08. John McNamee said he believes that precious time could be better spent through MADD's current campaign, which pushes for more visible enforcement and technology that makes it impossible for impaired drivers to operate a vehicle.
"While lowering the BAC may lower deaths in the future, MADD's campaign could eliminate them," said McNamee. "And that's going to be our focus."
While levels vary, the average woman could reach the .05 threshold in a single drink. A 120 pound woman could reach .08 with two drinks, and a 140 pound woman could reach .07 with two drinks. A 160 pound man could reach .05 with two drinks. A 180 pound man could reach .04 with two drinks. Some in the restaurant and bar industry said the new level would put them out of business.
"You can't just go into a bar and have a single drink," said former Houston bar owner Betty Vogt. "If you're going to visit a friend, you're going to have at least a couple of beers."
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