0.08 is reasonable limit for drinkers | TahoeDailyTribune.com

0.08 is reasonable limit for drinkers

Less than a month from now when the Nevada Legislature convenes, a topic of discussion will be lowering the legal blood alcohol content to 0.08 from 0.10.

At stake is millions of dollars from the federal government. One would have hoped it were a moral argument and not a fiscal one that is the driving force behind the proposal.

Nonetheless, we are completely behind the proposal no matter the reason. Thirty-five states have the 0.80 limit, including California. Statistics prove that the lower rate has helped to reduce the number of fatal alcohol-related accidents. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration reports that there has been a 7 percent drop in DUI-related fatalities with the lowering of the BAC to 0.08.

Saving lives should be reason enough for Nevada to the join the majority. This is not about curtailing people’s fun. Responsible, social drinkers are not going to be impacted by this legislation.

But it is sure to give law enforcement officials more power to get dangerous drivers off the roads before they further put people’s lives at risk. These people belong behind bars, not behind the wheel of a car.

Besides saving lives, lowering the BAC will mean Nevada will not lose millions of dollars. There is the possibility if lawmakers do not change the law, the state will lose close to $30 million in five years.

Congress would begin cutting transportation dollars next year, with the penalty getting steeper each year.

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state would lose $2.9 million in 2004; $5.7 million in 2005; $8.6 million in 2006; and $11.4 million in 2007.

In Northern Nevada, this is money that is earmarked for the bypass in Carson City and Spaghetti Bowl in Reno.

It was in 1990 that Congress passed a law tying the blood alcohol content to federal highway transportation funding. Only now does Nevada stand to lose.

If getting more drunken drivers off the road is not a good enough reason for our elected officials to lower the blood alcohol limit to 0.08, then surely the prospect of millions of dollars being held hostage in Washington, D.C., is reason enough.

This is not the first time the Legislature has considered lowering the BAC. This will be the seventh time the issue has come before lawmakers. It is way overdue that the lawmakers pass this legislation. There is no good argument not to.

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