Drunk driving is wrong, but the latest information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could be taken to suggest that having a few drinks before driving might not be harmful from a statistical standpoint.
Far from excusing any sort of intoxicated driving, NHTSA says most drunk drivers causing fatal accidents are well above the legal limit. More than 70 percent of deaths involving drunk driving crashes in 2010 included a BAC of .15 or higher, which is almost double the limit.
“They are getting deeply intoxicated before getting behind the wheel,” NHTSA head David Strickland said.
That doesn’t mean that being beyond a .08 BAC but under .15 is safe or OK, but it does offer a window into what the circumstances are in the majority of alcohol-related accidents.
It’s a problem some states are addressing by mandating that first-time offenders be required to install ignition-interlock devices – a system that tests a driver’s intoxication to prevent drunk driving.
Some have suggested that mandating ignition-interlock devices in all cars would drastically reduce the number of fatal collisions occurring every year, but there are also those who oppose the idea. The American Beverage Institute, which represents beverage suppliers and restaurant chains says such measures could unfairly punish people who marginally exceed the limit.