Two years ago I wrote about the national movementtoward lowering the per se BAC to 0.05%. Since then, Utah has become the first state to write the 0.05% per se BAC into law. There is a bill pending in the California legislature, which is currently referred to Committee (AB-1713), that would lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.05%. This bill is guaranteed to see pushback from various business groups, especially the restaurant and bar industry. I don’t expect the bill to become law this year but given the changing and more restrictive attitudes towards driving under the influence, it is certainly up for consideration.
Let’s consider the arguments made by those who oppose lowering the BAC to 0.05%. Do they have valid arguments?
Opponents of lowering the lawful BAC argue that lowering the legal BAC will target responsible drinkers who are not impaired and the proposed law is creeping towards a new kind of prohibition. For example, a 110-pound woman who drank of glass of wine and 30 minutes later got behind the wheel might register a BAC of 0.05%. Until 1990, the per se BAC was 0.10%in California. It was then lowered to the current 0.08%. Lowering it again to 0.05% may seem to some as though Carrie Nation’s ghost is whispering in lawmakers’ ears.