It is fairly common knowledge that the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit while driving a vehicle is 08. However, there are some variations to the BAC that could lead to more punishment and new developments in the law that could lower that number and make the risk of being charged with a DUI even greater.
The legal BAC limit in Illinois used to be .15, then .10, and finally .08 in the 1990’s, along with the rest of the country. This last change came from a threat by the Federal Government that Federal Highway Funds would be withheld if the .08 limit wasn’t put in place. The recommendation to set this limit came from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
According to a news report recently issued by CNN, the NTSB has recently voted to recommend lowering the DUI limit to .05. With the way alcohol typically metabolizes, it would only take one drink for a man and two drinks for a women inside of an hour to reach this limit and be presumed driving under the influence if this new limit is adopted in the state.
Given the tactics of the federal government to withhold much-needed funds, it could very well become a reality should this limit be encouraged and supported beyond the NTSB. Although the NTSB cites the staggering number of drunk driving fatalities to support its position, there doesn’t seem to be any data to support that these accidents will be prevented by a lower limit. In fact, most of these fatal accidents are perpetrated by offenders whose BAC is well over .15. Out of the nearly 10,000 drunk driving related fatalities each year, only 1000 of these involved BAC level between .05 and .07.
The NTSB also recommends that state law enforcement officers be allowed to confiscate driver’s licenses for violations and requiring ignition locks be installed for first-time offenders.
So what would lowering the limit do to prevent the majority of these fatal accidents? Not much, it would appear. But it would certainly make the act of driving after having even one drink for some people risky business indeed. The harsh penalties of fines, imprisonment, loss of driving privileges, and other inconveniences like the recommended ignition locks will be an endless barrage of punishment for imbibing even the smallest amounts of alcohol.
Currently, Illinois law is that a BAC of between 0 and .05 is presumed to not be impaired. BAC levels between .05 and .08 there is still no presumption of impairment, but a DUI can be issued if a law enforcement officer finds a driver is actually impaired. Over .08 is presumed to be impaired and a DUI is charged if that limit is found.
The penalties for a DUI in Illinois depend on the circumstances of each situation, but the ignition locks recommended by the NTSB are not required under Illinois law until the second or subsequent violation, not for first time offenders.
Please contact a qualified Illinois DUI Defense Attorney if you ever face these charges and to stay abreast of changes in the law.