Vermont may soon be the first state to lower it’s drunk driving blood alcohol level below .08%, which is currently the legal threshold in every state.
If Representative Bill Lippert, Chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee in Vermont, gets his way, the new limit would drop to .05%.
The motivation behind Rep. Lipper’s proposal is to “send a very serious message that impaired driving is not tolerated on Vermont roads.”
If the proposal becomes law, Vermont would be in a category by itself within the United States. However, Vermont would have plenty of international company.
The illegal limit is .05% in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Turkey. Some countries have even lower limits: .03% in Poland and .02% in Norway, Russia and Sweden.
For an interesting contrast, consider that, in some U.S. States, the zero tolerance limit is as high as .02%. This means that minors can legally operate a vehicle with a BAC lower than .02% in these states.
So, what would this mean for Vermont drivers? Essentially, it would mean that drivers would no longer be safe in telling a police officer that they had “one or two drinks.” Most DUI lawyers encourage drivers to say this, if true, because one or two drinks will not yield a BAC over the legal limit.
With a legal threshold of .05%, anything more than one drink could possibly result in a DUI (depending on the usual factors: gender, weight, amount of time between drinks).
The legal limit has been lowered several times in the last few decades—from .15% to .10% to .08%. And there’s nothing to prevent it from being lowered further.
If Rep. Bill Lippert’s idea is enacted into law, Vermont may well be the harbinger of a new nationwide drunk driving limit.
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