Pennsylvania BAC Limits Unlikely to Change Despite NTSB Recommendation


PA DUI Attorney Expects Resistance from States

pennsylvania state capitolAccording to a recent article, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in an effort to reach its goal of completely eliminating alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities in the United States, called for all 50 states to reduce their legal blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers to 0.05%. Currently, every state nationwide has a legal BAC limit for drivers of 0.08%.

Despite this recommendation and other initiatives to lower the incidence of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, however, history shows that change in Pennsylvania laws with respect to BAC legal limits is unlikely to change anytime soon, and may not change for years. The NTSB last recommended a reduction in BAC legal limits in 1982, when it called for a decrease from 0.10% to 0.08%. Utah and Oregon reduced their BAC limits accordingly in 1983, but it would take more than 20 years before all 50 states passed laws reducing their legal limits to meet the NTSB recommendation of 0.08%.

For instance, Pennsylvania’s DUI law lowering the legal limit to 0.08% was not signed until September 2003, 21 years following the NTSB recommendation. As a result, change in the current BAC levels under Pennsylvania law is not likely to be forthcoming in the near future. Pennsylvania’s residents, then, need not worry that drastically lowered BAC limits will lead to increased DUI arrests until a law change actually is introduced by the legislature and is passed; even NTSB itself and other safety officials acknowledge that change in this area of the law is likely to be slow and unpopular among many constituents, legislators, and industries.

A substantial decrease in the legal BAC limit for drivers is only one of several other initiatives that the NTSB has recommended in order to achieve its goal of reducing and eventually completely eliminating drunk-driving-related fatalities. While the NTSB’s goal is certainly a laudable one, its efforts also must be balanced with a person’s rights.

For example, while sobriety checkpoints may be an effective tool for combating drunk driving, drivers who are law-abiding citizens should not be needlessly subjected to invasive searches, seizures, or field sobriety testing where there is no basis or probable cause for doing so. Likewise, drivers who may have consumed small amounts of alcohol but who have BAC levels well under the legal limits for driving in the state of Pennsylvania should not be subject to arrest or other adverse action by law enforcement simply because there is an odor of alcohol or a suspicion of DUI. For these reasons, DUI or DUI-related charges should always be considered carefully in order to determine their legitimacy.

If you or a family member is accused of DUI or a DUI-related crime, there may be many valid defenses that can minimize or even avoid the potentially severe impact of a criminal conviction. As a result, it is critical that you contact a qualified and experienced PA DUI attorney today for a thorough evaluation of your case.