Stephen Talpins, an of counsel attorney at Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell law firm and co-founder of the National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime, said that between 0.08 and 0.05, a person cannot be found guilty of a DUI, but can be found guilty of driving impaired. A person is a safer driver at 0.05 than at 0.08, he said.
While its certainly safer driving without alcohol in your system, I would not criminalize people who drive with a BAC below .08, Talpins said.
A change in the law would not have a significant impact on public safety, he said.
Meanwhile, Sarah Longwell, managing director of the National Beverage Institute, a restaurant industry group, called the NTSB recommendation ludicrous. She and other opponents of the 0.05 limit said that law enforcement resources were better spent on the worst offenders instead of what she called moderate drinkers.
Further restricting the moderate consumption of alcohol by responsible adults prior to driving does nothing to stop hardcore drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, she said in a statement.
Her group cites federal statistics that more than 70 percent of drunken-driving fatalities involve drivers with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent or more, and that the average level of a driver involved in a fatal crash is 0.16.
Even one of the leading advocacy organizations that pushed for the 0.08 limit stopped short of endorsing the NTSB recommendation. Mothers Against Drunk Driving said in a statement that it appreciated the NTSBs work but said it would focus its efforts on law enforcement tools that it projects would save thousands of lives a year.
Above all, MADD strongly recommends that the safest course of action is to not drink and drive, it said.
Miami Herald writer Chabeli Herrera contributed to this report.