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Study: Drunk driving threshold should be lowered further

Tennessee motorists already face steep penalties for DUI charges. Being at or over the legal limit of .08 percent can lead to mandatory jail time as well as costly fines and the suspension of a driver's license. A new federally funded study is arguing for a lowered drunk driving threshold in order to improve roadway safety and cut down on fatal crashes.

Issued by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report states that there are around 10,000 deaths on America's roadways each year due to drunk driving. In an attempt to cut down on intoxicated drivers on the road, the study authors believe that the current BAC limit should be lowered to .05 percent. In practice, this would mean that most women would be limited to one or two drinks over an evening and most men to two or three drinks. The report also proposed a number of restrictions on alcohol sales and consumption, including limiting the legal hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages as well as a hike in alcohol taxes.

The study's authors also advocated for the creation of public advertising campaigns about alcohol similar to those currently aimed at tobacco smoking, to be funded through the proposed tax increases. The restaurant and alcoholic beverage industries have responded to the report by arguing that its recommendations will not boost safety stating that most drunk driving fatalities are caused by repeat offenders or drivers who far exceed the existing limits.

People who are facing DUI charges, even first-time offenders, could suffer serious repercussions for their driving privileges, criminal record, employment and insurance. A criminal defense attorney can work to challenge the charges by, for example, demonstrating that the breath machine was improperly calibrated.

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