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Federal study urges lowered drunk driving limits

For Wisconsin residents, being convicted of drunk driving can carry serious penalties. The state, like all other states, has a blood alcohol content limit of .08 percent. Being found driving while at or over that threshold can lead to a fine, incarceration and a driver's license suspension. A federally funded study argues that the BAC limit should be reduced in order to reduce the number of fatalities and serious crashes.

The study, issued by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, notes that every year there are about 10,000 fatalities attributable to drunk driving. It argues that lowering the blood alcohol content threshold to .05 percent could improve safety and help reduce deaths and serious accidents. The practical effect of such a new limit would mean that most men would need to stop at two to three drinks over the course of an evening and most women at one to two drinks.

In addition, the study advocated a number of other restrictions on alcohol, arguing that they would help prevent drunk driving. For example, it promoted higher alcohol taxes as a way of cutting consumption and urged states to reduce the legal hours for the marketing of alcoholic drinks at pubs, restaurants and stores. Opponents of the study's proposals have argued that most fatalities are caused by repeat offenders who far exceed the current BAC, and that the suggestions would, therefore, have little impact on roadway safety.

When people are facing drunk driving charges, a criminal defense lawyer can help to protect their rights. Even for a first-time OWI charge, it can be critical to secure legal representation. In some cases, a lawyer could challenge the test results on the basis that the breath machine was improperly calibrated.

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