KC bar weighs in on lower legal limit proposal

Posted at 8:57 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 23:20:43-05

The National Transportation Safety Board is once again calling for a lower legal blood alcohol limit.

This week, the agency released its 2016 "Most Wanted List" highlighting safety improvements it would like to see. One of them is a new blood alcohol limit of .05, down from the current .08 limit.

Christopher Hart, chairman of the NTSB, said, "In the last 15 years, about one-third of highway deaths involved an alcohol-impaired driver."

If approved, a man who weighs about 180 pounds could safely consume two drinks. Women from 100 to 140 pounds would be limited to roughly one drink.

Anthony Bonino is the marketing director for The Quaff, one of the oldest bars in Kansas City. If the proposal does become law, he said, "Hopefully more of the neighborhood people would stay in the neighborhood and drink rather than getting behind the wheels of their car and going somewhere else."

In a statement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving said it "currently supports the national standard of .08 BAC while also continuing to strongly recommend that those who drink alcohol not drive." The American Beverage Institute called the idea "ridiculous," adding, "The NTSB wants to penalize responsible adults who enjoy one or two drinks with dinner."

Bonino believes, "People are grown men and grown women. They should be able to make their own decision." In the 70 years his family has owned The Quaff, he tells 41 Action News if the legal limit goes down that won't be all. "Everybody will just take a hit. It won't just be the small bars and restaurants. It'll be everybody all the way up the chain."

WATCH BELOW: Press conference on NTSB's "Most Wanted List" of 2016: 


Full statement from MADD:

MADD appreciates the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) work to highlight that drinking and driving continues to be a major problem on our highways killing almost 10,000 people a year. MADD currently supports the national standard of .08 BAC while also continuing to strongly recommend that those who drink alcohol not drive. The focus of our advocacy remains on the continued implementation of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving which the U.S. Congress adopted as national policy when it approved surface transportation reauthorization legislation known as MAP-21, in 2012. Congress renewed its commitment through passage of the FAST Act in 2015.

Through the Campaign's three elements of sobriety checkpoints and high visibility enforcement, state ignition interlock laws for all offenders and research toward the development of technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle, the Campaign is leading the nation toward the elimination of drunk driving as the leading cause of highway fatalities. The Campaign also enjoys widespread support, including that of the NTSB, which has recommended that states enact an all-offender ignition interlock law and backed advanced drunk driving prevention technology research.

It is important to note that the Campaign has been structured to maximize the number of lives saved as quickly as possible and when fully implemented is projected to save approximately 7,000 lives a year, far more than the project benefits of a lower BAC standard.

Full statement from ABI:

The NTSB's renewed call to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for driving to 0.05 or even lower is ridiculous. Instead of targeting the heavily intoxicated drivers who cause most fatal drunk driving crashes, the NTSB wants to penalize responsible adults who enjoy one or two drinks with dinner.

More than a decade ago, we lowered the legal limit from 0.1 percent to 0.08 after groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving promised a huge drop in fatalities. Yet the proportion of traffic fatalities caused by drunk drivers has remained the same for the past 15 years. Why would moving to .05 suddenly stop truly drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel? The fact is, it won't.


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