Florida, Other States Should Cut Blood Alcohol Limit for Drivers, National Transportation Safety Board Says

The NTSB made the recommendation Tuesday

By Willard Shepard
|  Wednesday, May 15, 2013  |  Updated 1:00 AM EDT
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The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on Florida and other states to reduce the amount of alcohol that drivers can legally consume before they get behind the wheel. NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman spoke about the issue Tuesday. Broward County resident Heather Geronemus recalled how she learned that her father had been killed in a DUI crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on Florida and other states to reduce the amount of alcohol that drivers can legally consume before they get behind the wheel. NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman spoke about the issue Tuesday. Broward County resident Heather Geronemus recalled how she learned that her father had been killed in a DUI crash.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on Florida and other states to reduce the amount of alcohol that drivers can legally consume before they get behind the wheel.

The agency said Tuesday that it believes reducing the blood alcohol level limit from .08 to .05 will cut the chances of a drunk driving crash in half.

"Our goal is to get to zero deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman said.

She said that no one should ever have to get a knock on the door and be told the news that “far too many families have received.”

“Alcohol-impaired crashes are not accidents, they are crimes. They can and should be prevented,” Hersman said. “The tools exist. What is needed is the will."

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Broward County resident Heather Geronemus got a terrible call four years ago.

"I was out with my friends and I got a call from my 89-year-old grandmother telling me that my father was dead," she said. He was killed in a DUI crash.

Geronemus and the organization she's with – Mothers Against Drunk Driving – believe that no one should get behind the wheel after having even just one drink.

"I don't think anybody should get in the car after they have had drinks,” Geronemus said. “I’m not against drinking. I’m against drinking and driving.”

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But there is opposition to the NTSB recommendations from the industry trade group representing more than 8,000 restaurants.

"This recommendation is ludicrous. Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” the American Beverage Institute said. “Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hard-core drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

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The NTSB is also recommending drunk driving offenders be forced to blow into a machine that measures their alcohol levels before the car would start.

Now, the NTSB has to rely on Florida lawmakers to see if they are willing to make the changes it has proposed.

The last time the blood alcohol level limits were reduced from .10 to .08, it took 21 years for all states to implement the change.

Click here to use a blood alcohol content calculator.

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