Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What else can affect a drivers ability to operate a motor vehicle similar to a DUI

I recently saw this article from the Chicago Tribune titled, "Push to lower legal limit of intoxication to 0.05 stirs debate."  I initially thought it was another article discussing the National Traffic Safety Board's suggestion to lower the blood alcohol level in DUI cases from 0.08 to 0.05.  But when I dove into the article there was actually some interesting information that I wanted to share on my blog.

Interesting enough many opponents of DUI and other safe driving advocates remain silent on the issue of lowering the BAC level to 0.05.  Many believe it is due to the difficulty of actually proving someone is impaired at 0.05.  Others believe it is due to the reality that so many more non criminal acts can affect a person's ability to drive more than an alcohol level at 0.05.   

The gist of the article begins a discussion of what actually constitutes dangerous driving.  And I was quite surprised at some of the examples they provided.

For example the "National Sleep Foundation states that drowsiness is very similar to alcohol impairment and “can impair driving performance as much or more so than alcohol,” according to a report on the topic. Being sleepy can slow reaction times, limit vision and create lapses in judgment and delays in processing information, the foundation states."

Additionally "A 2003 study by University of Utah showed that motorists who talk on cellphones — hands-free or not — are as impaired as drivers at a 0.08 BAC. Study participants drove slower and hit the brakes and accelerated later than those driving un-distracted. Drunken drivers drove slower than cellphone users and un-distracted drivers but more aggressively. They also followed more closely and hit their brakes more erratically, the research showed."

Lastly the article mentions some studies that establish lane deviations and attention lapses occur at a BAC as low as 0.001.

Now don't get me wrong.  Even though I'm a DUI Attorney in Seattle, I am not advocating drinking and driving.  In fact in my family I have a strict policy of absolutely no alcohol if you're driving.  This is in part due to the danger of driving while impaired, but mostly it has to do with all the DUI's I have defended where the blood alcohol level was significantly less than the legal limit.  FYI - there is no such thing as a legal limit.  

So for all those proponents of lowering the legal limit to 0.05.  There are many more things that are as dangerous if not more when it comes to driving.  Should we criminalize texting while driving.  Should criminalize those that have only had an hour or two of sleep while driving.  Absolutely not.  The legal limit is fine where it is.  That's just my opinion.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic related offenses. 

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