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flo's avatar

What should be the legally acceptable level of blood alcohol content while driving?

Asked by flo (7643 points ) November 5th, 2012

I heard of a court case where the device that measures the BAC was called into question. Outside of the countries where it is illegal to consume alcohol, where is it considered a no-brainer to have it at zero, legally? Do you have an experience, in let’s say a European country where they are strict about drinking and driving?

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20 Answers

SuperMouse's avatar

According to this chart, outside of those countries that make alcohol consumption illegal, most European countries have a blood alcohol limit of .05, not too much lower than the U.S. I think that our .08 might be high. Sweden is at .02, I like the sound of that. Even before I got sober I never drank and drove, no matter how little I had – there is just too much at stake.

ragingloli's avatar

0.00.
If you get caught, you lose your license permanently.

flo's avatar

I see a lot of zeros there in the chart @SuperMouse .
Which country/ries @ragingloli?

DrBill's avatar

0.0000 no tolerance

SuperMouse's avatar

@flo if you look at the chart you will see that most of those countries are in the middle east where presumably drinking alcohol is illegal.

flo's avatar

@SuperMouse yes I thought so too at first, but Russia Japan, Romania, ...there is quite a few of them that are not Islamic countries.

ETpro's avatar

Having been up to the level of 0.08% or 0.1%, I don’t think you’re in shape to drive at either of those levels. And yet people routinely get stopped for driving with levels 2 and 3 times that. Consider that a blood alcohol level over .3 leaves on likely in a stupor and .4 is generally lethal.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’d say.05 to .08 is not too bad. My body weight can handle 2 beers in an hour, but I really notice three and then driving. And that would put me at around .08. I wouldn’t touch the keys at more than that.

ninjacolin's avatar

Reality is, everyone is different and not everyone who drinks and drives is an ACTUAL threat. Some people are crappy drivers to start with and drinking makes them worse.

Some others are great drivers sober and extra conscientious about the affect of alcohol they’ve consumed to the point where they either refuse to drive when they should or else they decide to drive when it really will be alright.

Really, some people just know what they can personally handle and they abide by it while others can’t even handle the legal amounts.

DrBill's avatar

@ninjacolin you are correct, the problem is those who can’t drive sober who think drinking makes them better drivers.

ninjacolin's avatar

Lol, I realize I didn’t offer an answer. But I contributed to the definition of the problem. How much should the legal limit be in a world where some can handle drinking decisions and some can’t? Or maybe limits aren’t the solution but privilege is.. What if we just have an additional driving privilege for consuming alcohol and driving provided you’ve tested and passed an exam about safe decisions making while drinking.

So basically no one can drive with alchol in their system unless they’re certified to make that decision in the first place. That way people who can make it home without an accident won’t get any unnecessary legal trouble for making a safe decision to drive after a few.

ninjacolin's avatar

Sorry my typing is atrocious.. I’m not drunk, I’m just on an iPad.

DrBill's avatar

@ninjacolin
I like that idea, but I can see a lot of problems enforcing it, and a lot of whiners about not getting a permit.

jerv's avatar

Some people can function perfectly fine at BAC levels that would impair some others many times over. I know people that drive perfectly fine even though their BAC never falls below 0.10 even after not drinking for 10–12 hours.

The intent behind BAC is to determine what legally qualifies as “impaired” while overlooking the fact that many people are impaired even at a BAC of 0.000000. While it is true that alcohol doesn’t help one’s judgment or reflexes, the point still stands that there are many stone-sober people with poor reflexes and/or poor judgement, and a few that honestly can handle their drink.

Therefore one may as well judge impairment on BMI or IQ. Accordingly, the only direct answer I can give is….

Mu!

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll say .05.

I think I was in Germany when I learned their number was .05. At least half the people in the club I was in were drinking Cokes. .05 seems to mean the people there were switching to soda at least 2 hours before leaving the bar, and I would bet did not have more than 2 drinks to begin with. I loved it. I don’t drink, I like a less alcohol oriented environment.

zenvelo's avatar

The 0.08 number is what got set after the efforts of MADD. It’s really what is the equivalent of two drinks for a person of average weight. But two drinks in an hour is really impaired for a woman that weighs under 125 lbs. And for a man over 225 lbs, it would take closer to 3 drinks.

But @ninjacolin , you ought to get your reaction time tested after getting to .10, the old standard. i think you’d find yourself impaired and reaction time slowed.

It’s not the ability to drive a straight line that is the onset of impairment, it’s the inability to react as quickly. A kid steps i the street- sober you hit the brakes, impaired a two tenths of a second delay and the kid is in the hospital or dead.

In California, if you are in an accident and found with .05, you’ll be prosecuted for being impaored even if you are below the legal bright line.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo The problem with the two drinks is that as you said it would vary among individuals because of body weight and especially wine is many times poured bigger when people drink at home. People use large wine glasses and pour more than 5 ounces per glass, and they don’t know/realize. Hard liquor, especially mixed drinks, people use big glasses now, remember how your grandma had those little glasses at her house? They were usually 6 or 8 ounces. Now we all have glasses that are 12 to 16 ounces.

ninjacolin's avatar

“you ought to get your reaction time tested” – period.
Ban everyone from drinking and driving as a default. Then, people who believe it may be unreasonable for their particular levels of tolerance should pay to prove it using some kind of drunk test.

“It’s not the ability to drive a straight line that is the onset of impairment, it’s the inability to react as quickly.”

Right but not everyone’s reaction times will be the same at .05. I’m suggesting we find out for whomever wants the privilege, exactly what your personal tolerance is. Instead of a blanket .05 or .08 or whatever.. @Buttonstc would be rated at .03, @JLeslie would be rated at .07 and @DrBill would be .344.. and if they get caught over their individual levels of tolerance (or caught driving without being tested) then all the regular laws would apply.

flo's avatar

I vote for zero.

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