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DWI penalties already severe: What would a 0.05 BAC yield?

The litmus test for behind-the-wheel intoxication in Missouri and nationally is a driver's blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or greater.

What if that was to change to a BAC threshold of 0.05?

Lobbying attempts are clearly on display that seek such an adjustment. They were given a proverbial shot in the arm recently with the issuance of a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Researchers with that entity endorse a change in the long-applicable national standard, saying that it would lead to improved safety outcomes on American roadways.

In Missouri, even the higher threshold leads to notably harsh criminal penalties in high instances for drivers convicted of DWI offenses. We note some of the downsides on our criminal defense website at Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry in St. Louis. They include jail time, sizable fines and imposed public service. And linked with those exactions, of course, is the stigma of a permanent criminal record.

A changed BAC legal limit down to 0.05 would certainly result in arrests and convictions for legions more Missouri drivers. Many motorists would suddenly find that even a carefully controlled drink or two could push them into legally problematic territory.

Approval for such a change is far from unanimous. One prominent criticism stresses the point that a lowered level would be inaptly aimed at a motorist demographic that is generally seeking to be responsible. It would logically do nothing to deter drivers who are already known to be catalysts in most drunk driving crashes, namely, those who are repeat offenders and often exhibit intoxication levels that are extremely high.

The debate over the legal limit for drivers' blood-alcohol content is ongoing. We shall be sure to pass along any material details that emerge on the subject to our Missouri reading audience.

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Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

120 South Central Avenue
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Saint Louis, MO 63105

Phone: 314-499-1424
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