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Feds recommend lowering drunk driving limit; Local reactions mixed

Maggie Vespa

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Feds recommend lowering drunk driving limit; Local reactions mixed

CREATED May. 14, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - They say 'You drink, you drive, you lose.'

Soon, it could take a lot less to lose, if the feds have their way.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants states to slash the legal blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05.

To Beverly Mason-Biggers, it means saving lives.

"He always had a zest for life," she said.
Her baby brother Scott died in 1992, after a drunk driver crashed into his truck.
"It really threw our whole family into a tailspin."
Out of her grief, came a new passion.
Beverly now works for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD.
She calls the NTSB's new proposal groundbreaking.
"People who make that choice to drink and drive don't realize that it's not just their future that they're deciding," she said.
Each year in the US, drunk drivers kill roughly 10,000 people.
In Pima County, the annual average is 14.
At local bars, reactions are as mixed as the drinks.
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked patrons about the proposed reduction.
One man responded, "It's a good thing.  The ability to save lives, keep more drunk people off the roads."
"Our jails are already full enough with people drunk driving.  We need to quit wasting peoples' tax dollars," said one woman.
"I think it should be .05.  I think it would be safer," said another man.
Still some question, "Why?"
"What we're looking at here is almost a repetition of a failed experiment of prohibition," said DUI attorney James Nesci.
He argues, many don't know what ".05" means.
Studies show for a 160 lb man, two drinks could put him over that limit.
For a 120 lb woman, one drink could be enough.
"Perfectly sober people who are driving home from say having a drink with friends or being at a wedding or social responsible drinking, are now going to be criminalized," said Nesci.
Either way, it's debate that's stirring and shaking up emotions across the country.
The NTSB argues reducing the legal limit would save between 500 & 800 lives per year.
All they can do is make this recommendation.
To make it law, each state would have to lower the legal limit on its own.