What do you think of the US DUI Level

I was just looking at a thread in Great Debates, and it got me wondering what people think of the typical 0.08 BAC threshold for DUI in the US.

Please provide suport for your opinion if you feel so inclined. I will check back and post my thoughts after the poll has been posted for a while.

I think it is too high and it is designed to make sure the state gets their money from the slightly impaired person.


.08 is not the threshhold for DUI in the US.

.08 is the threshhold for a per se DUI.

What you need to measure is if that person is safe in the public situation they are in. Driving a car at all involves risk, but is that risk consistent with acceptably normal human behavior. Is it reasonable for a slightly impaired person to drive 1 mile on a straight vacant rural road with no intersections, is this a equal ‘crime’ to a slightly impaired person driving from a city bar home to the suburbs?

I think it’s misguided, in the case of the (many) states that don’t have different levels. The idea seems to be that driving drunk is bad, so the lower we make the limit, the better. But driving with a BAL of .08 is NOTHING like driving with a BAL of .2 or .3. I’m okay with .08 being illegal, because it’s not a great idea to drive at that level–but who has never driven at a time when it wasn’t a great idea? When you were really tired or distracted or something? Everyone does sometimes. So, fine, have it be a ticket-able offense. But I think the serious consequences–jail/thousands in fines/suspended license/etc.–should be reserved for the truly dangerous levels.

I don’t think that penalizing small amounts of something in order to highlight the danger of large amounts of that thing is ever a good idea or that it ever works. (If it did, we wouldn’t even be discussing this, because Prohibition would have been a success.)

I think the poll question is a bit ambiguous. I was all set to choose “too low”, as it—IMHO—unduly penalizes drivers who are no more impaired than fatigued drivers, texting drivers, and the elderly. Then I read dalej42’s comment, which pretty much mirrors my thoughts, and he chose too high. So I chose “other.”

Use a per se DUI level that more Americans can agree is really per se. I like .15% BAC, but others can and will differ. However, use evidence of BAC levels in proceedings to prove the defendant’s reckless driving, in addition to other evidence, like video evidence, testimony from other drivers who called 911 to report the defendant’s driving, etc… Reckless, dangerous driving is what we are trying to limit, after all, not whether the defendant’s blood level, according to Widmark’s model, goes above some arbitrary line.

Of course, strict liability crimes are much easier to prove than a crime like reckless driving, and so the .08 will not only endure, I’d give even money that it’ll drop to other countries’ BAC levels like .04 or .05, within the next 20 years.

Hmm, I voted “too high,” meaning the exact opposite explanation. 0.08 allows for too many impaired drivers to legally be on the road (by most BAC Charts, it’d take a 200lb man about four drinks in short order to hit 0.08, five or six if he’s pacing himself and allowing some to metabolize over an hour or two. That’s really not a low bar.), and I’d prefer to see a lower BAC as the threshold, maybe 0.06 or so.

As someone who almost never drinks alcohol, and certainly never to the point of impairment, I don’t have a good sense of what the point of impairment is, so I opted for it’s about right.

I messed up. I think .08 is** too low** of a BAC for a DUI level with the current penalties.

Thanks for the replies so far. Sorry about the ambiguity. I was thinking that “too high” meant that the law should be more stringent, e.g. 0.05, etc.

Also, could someone please explain what is meant by “per se” DUI.

if you are impaired while driving a vehicle, any amount of booze in your system is enough to get you busted under normal DUI rules.

“per se” DUI is a separate offense where you are automatically deemed to be impaired if you have over a .08 BAC (technically, it isn’t DUI, it’s more along the lines of "driving with a BAC over .08 in the sense that impairment doesn’t have to be shown)
here’s the speeding analogy:

if you’re driving 54 mph in a 55 mph zone in the middle of a blizzard, you will get busted for violating the basic speed law/driving too fast for the conditions

if you’re driving 56 mph in that same 55 mph zone in that same blizzard, you will get busted for the per se violation of driving faster than the posted speeding limit. it’s a lot easier for the state to prove this than the 54 mph offense.
edit: if you still aren’t getting it: understand that DUI has been renamed DWI in many jurisdiction, and incorporates driving while under the influence of drugs. there’s no “BAC” for the amount of coke, heroin, or pot in your system, but it’s still plenty illegal to drive around while you’re high.

I find it difficult to have an informed opinion on this topic, because no two accounts seem to agree on how much alcohol is necessary to breach the limit.

I think ticketing should be limited to impairment and/or the breaking of traffic laws, whatever the BAC is. I have one friend who seriously can’t drive with a single glass of wine in her, and others who can drive well with a high level of alcohol in them.

A number’s just a number, and I’m far more interested in removing impaired drivers than those with good driving skills who happen to be drunk.

I have no problem with *adding *penalties, and really damn severe ones, for drivers who break traffic laws and have also been drinking, as it may reduce the likelihood that they’ll drink and drive again, but I don’t see a logical reason why a person should be penalized for *only *having consumed alcohol, if they haven’t broken traffic laws (say, at a checkpoint.)

While I’m at it, I’d like a pony that poops marshmallows.

a) what she’s doing is illegal

b) yeah, sure they can

Not driving because you know you can’t do it well after a single glass of wine is illegal? :confused:

Sure they can. Not falling down drunk, but with a BAC over 0.8. You don’t seriously think that 0.8 was picked because it’s a magic number, and anyone with a 0.81 is going to hit a tree, do you? It was picked because it’s somewhat conservative, so as to remove the dangerously drunk drivers. It’s also going to penalize some of those who are not dangerous.

I’ve seen people walk themselves into the ER with a .48, and they can even fill out their paperwork all by themselves. What means death in the textbook is just a Tuesday afternoon for some folks. (Note: I’m not saying anyone ever should be driving with a .48, just that there’s a whole lot of numbers in the middle there, and people cross “incapacitated” at different ones.)

There are some countries that have a maximum DUI level of 0. Yes, zero. I believe Japan is one. That means if you have any measurable alcohol in your blood at all, you are guilty.

no, it’s not picked to remove the dangerously drunk drivers. it’s picked after scientific research determined that most people suffer severe impairment in operating a 3000 piece of moving steel at that BAC level.

assuming I believe you, criminal law isn’t concerned with matching “bad” behavior to each and every person’s unique situation in life. it’s concerned with broad applicability to the average person - to regulate behavior in the manner you suggest is inefficient and ultimately pointless. whoop dee doo that you have apparently met people who aren’t comatose at a BAC of .48, but that’s really irrelevant - it’s unimportant that you feel that that person shouldn’t be penalized after going on a massive bender (and driving) because he has 99.99999999999999th percentile tolerance.

Yeah unfortunately this poll is kind of worthless because people may misinterpret it.

I would be happier if the law went back to 0.10 where it was 10-15 years ago, but 0.08 is not terrible. I would be incredibly pissed if it was ever lowered beyond that because at that point you’re not stopping the dangerous offenders, you’re just screwing people who are very moderately impaired. Three beers at happy hour doesn’t kill people but it would give many a DUI at 0.05. The worst problems are not the people in the 0.08-0.09 range, it’s people in higher ranges. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrinkingAndDriving.html

The Czech Republic, a VERY alcohol-centric culture in general, is also a 0-limit country.

(After reading this thread, I have decided to have a few drinks tonight, but I will be staying nice and safe, right here at home.)

I’d like to see it lowered, but that’s because I am, admittedly, hyper about drunk driving.

0.04, I’d be happy.