How Much Is Too Much?

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The National Transportation Safety Board is spearheading an initiative to lower the legal blood-alcohol content level for drivers from 0.08 to 0.05.

Statistics show that 10,000 people die in alcohol related crashes each year, and the NTSB believes dropping the limit will help save at least 1,000 lives.

Members of the Mahoning County OVI Task Force said more needs to be considered before taking action on the recommendation.

“I think we need to look at more research on that,” said Asst. Chief Scott Weamer with the Canfield Police Department. “Is 0.05 a good number? Are people impaired at that point?”

According to the NTSB, the chance an accident will happen at 0.05 is 39 percent more than someone without alcohol in their system and 100 percent more at 0.08.

Christian Rinehart, owner of O’Donold’s Irish Pub in Austintown and downtown Youngstown, said over the years, he’s seen people become more conscious of drunk driving.

“Point-zero-eight is already so low that people have changed their drinking habits,” said Rinehart. “It’s always bad when the government does more and more to push on you, but if it saves lives, it’s worth it.”

Rinehart said he is seeing more customers using designated drivers, DD for Hire, and taxis.

The reality remains that people still drink and drive. Weamer said lawmakers should look at more than just changing the blood-alcohol level.

“It’s only one piece of the puzzle. We need to look at the whole picture,” said Weamer. “I think the prosecution and penalty phase needs to be evaluated as well.”

It is up to each state to adopt the recommendation.

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