Local News

Push for lowering DUI limit gets mixed reactions

SEBRING - For Jackie Walker, there’s no question whether the blood alcohol content level to determine driving under the influence should be lowered. “I think anybody who has a beer shouldn’t get behind the wheel,” Walker said, as she walked along Sebring’s downtown circle. But another downtown visitor said changing the limitation won’t improve the traffic safety. More driver’s training and retesting requirements would better accomplish that, he said.
Discussion about the blood alcohol content came about recently after the National Transportation Safety Board said the limit for legal driving should be reduced from .08 to .05. “The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC level above .05 are impaired and are at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is injured or killed,” NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a press release. The NSTB maintains that every year 10,000 people are killed in crashes resulting from alcohol-impaired drivers and 173,000 are injured. The American Beverage Institute quickly opposed the change, according to an article on the NBC web site. “Moving from .08 to .05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” Sarah Longwell, managing director of the institute, was quoted as saying in the article. While some Sebring residents strongly support lowering the blood alcohol content to determine driving under the influence, others have reservations about the change. Sebring Police Cmdr. Steve Carr said he supports lowering the limit, but questions whether enforcement can be effective. Some people at that blood alcohol level don’t show outward signs of intoxication and potentially could get to that level with a beer and a half. Although the outward signs may be hard to detect, he said, lowering the limit could help. “If you’re somewhat impaired, you’re not driving as well as someone who isn’t drinking,” Carr added. Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton said Friday she did not have an opinion. She said she would like to see the research and reasoning behind the advocated change. Charles Butcher, who said he doesn’t drink, said he agrees with lowering the limit and that “more people should be held responsible for their actions while drinking and driving.” Of lowering the limit, he added, “I don’t know if that’s going to help remove drunk drivers off the streets.”


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