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Government panel suggests states should lower legal drinking limit from .08 to .05

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-18 18:34:30-05

How much is too much?

That's the debate raging tonight, after a new report from a government panel suggests states lower the legal drinking limit, dropping it from a .08 to a .05.

The report comes from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The panel says 10,000 people die every year in alcohol related crashes.

To be clear, the recommendation doesn't mean changes to the law are imminent - it's ultimately up to our state lawmakers.

So what would a legal limit shift from .08 to .05 mean for law enforcement?

Port Saint Lucie Police Officer Daniel Dalia says it’ll definitely keep them busy. 

“You'll definitely see a lot more DUI arrests made if people aren't being safe and making a plan,” he says. 

What would that mean for you?

Officer Dalia says overall your blood alcohol content is dependent on your body type and size.

A change in the law may have people re-considering that third beer.

“Just a general rule of thumb - they say two drinks in one hour regardless of your sex, height, weight...equals .05,” Officer Dalia says. 

In addition to lowering BAC levels, the report suggests increasing federal and state alcohol taxes, and reducing alcohol availability.

“I love what they want to do, I just don't think the lobbyists would let it pass,” says John Nelson, head of the non profit 'Families Against Drunk Driving" in Port Saint Lucie.

He says a lot of the protest would come from Florida's tourism industry.

“It would make us a lot less attractive to a traveler who wants to partake in that lifestyle,” Nelson says. 

He would welcome the changes, but says he'd rather see attention shift elsewhere.

“You're going after people that have already made the decision to drink. They're gonna drink no matter what. I think the arrow should be pointed at kids and prevention and education.”

The Distilled Spirits Council, which represents the liquor industry, has weighed in.

Their President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz called the report a "missed opportunity to address traffic safety in a more comprehensive manner.”