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States consider restrictive DUI reforms

Drunk driving laws in Tennessee and across the country may be heading toward more restrictive limits on alcohol consumption if one scientific panel has its way. The panel was charged with developing a plan to cut down on the risks of fatalities or serious injuries linked to drunk driving accidents. Each year, around 10,000 people lose their lives across the country in DUI-linked crashes.

The panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine made several recommendations to states for reducing drunk driving. While 49 states, including Tennessee, have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit of 0.08 percent, Utah shifted to a limit of 0.05 percent on Dec. 30, 2018. For many people, an 0.05 percent BAC limit may be quickly reached with only a few drinks. For most women weighing 120 pounds or more, they would reach the legal limit after two drinks in an evening. While men weighing around 160 pounds would also reach the limit at two drinks, those who weigh 180 pounds or more may be able to drink three alcoholic beverages before being unable to drive.

The report also recommended an array of restrictive laws focusing on access to alcohol. For example, it urged increased alcohol taxes and limitations on the hours in which alcohol can be sold. The report said that a doubling of alcohol taxes may lead to an 11 percent reduction in traffic fatalities. It also called for widespread anti-alcohol campaigns like those targeting tobacco smoking.

For people facing DUI charges, the consequences can be severe. Those convicted of drunk driving may face serious penalties, including license suspension or revocation, hefty fines and a driving record that may require increased insurance costs. A criminal defense lawyer can help someone fight back against DUI allegations and work to protect their rights.

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