Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .04 Proposed

A bill has been introduced to reduce Maine’s illegal threshold for driving down to .04, which is one-half the current level.

The average BAC of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Maine is .18%. That’s four and a half times higher than the proposed limit. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other groups have recognized that the major drunken driving problem is the hard-core repeat offender with a very high BAC. Such drivers tend to be alcohol dependent. Severe punishment has little effect on such individuals, who need treatment. The proposed legislation would do nothing to address this problem.

Research studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere demonstrate that using a hands-free cell phone is more dangerous than driving with a BAC of .08. But if stopped at a mandatory sobriety roadblock, a 120-pound woman who had consumed a single drink before driving would be found in violation of the law. She would be subject to arrest, loss of license, jail, and thousands of dollars in fines, legal fees and insurance premium increases. Yet she would be a safer driver than someone using a cell phone would!

References:

  • Bill to reduce blood alcohol threshold to .04 criminalizes responsible adults. California Wine and Food, March 28, 2005.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving