NTSB gets tough on drunk driving, move draws controversy - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

NTSB gets tough on drunk driving, move draws controversy

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Jan Withers Jan Withers
Brandon Detenber Brandon Detenber

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On the 25th anniversary of the worst drunk driving crash in our Nation's history, the National Transportation Safety Board takes the opportunity to get tough on drunk driving.

The NTSB is recommending that states lower the blood alcohol level of drunk driving now set at .08 to .05.

The move is already drawing controversy.

Many people we talked with agree with the NTSB said if lives are going to be saved just do it. NBC News reported when .05 was adopted in several countries in Europe, the death rate was cut in half.

But other people maintain, .05 may go too far by making criminals out of law abiding citizens.

"We knew that the recommendations were coming, we didn't know what specifically was happening," said Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Jan Withers.

Withers was in Radcliff Tuesday for the Carroll County Bus Crash memorial. She said MADD has a different focus right now, issues like high visibility of law enforcement and ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers. "Point 05 can be down the road," Withers said, "It's a recommendation that we certainly respect from the NTSB, but we're really laser focused on saving the most lives that we can right now."

The NTSB makes its case that 10,000 people die every year in alcohol related crashes and at least 1000 of those lives could be saved by the change.

The American Beverage Institute is fighting back calling the recommendation ludicrous, stating it treats law abiding citizens who are acting responsibly, like criminals.

"I'm a little torn between the two," said Bunz Restaurant owner Brandon Detenber who explained he sees how people on both sides of the issue feel, "You don't want to be on the road with drunk drivers, but at the same time you don't want to criminalize people who are going out and having a beer at dinner or having a glass of wine with dinner."  He believes many people would choose not drinking at all, fearing being pulled over, which would cause his neighbors that serve alcohol on Bardstown Road to lose a lot of money.

A cyclist headed home on Bardstown Road said, "I saw some of the (Radcliff) survivors of the crash (Carroll County) and it definitely changed their life."

The cyclist said he grew up in Radcliff and said to him it's a no-brainer: If it save lives, lower it, people can adjust he -  just like he was,  "I had a beer and it was a strong beer," he explained, "So, I'm a little light headed but it was just one beer so I thought you know, I'll just walk my bike home because I don't live too far away."

According to NBC News, a 30-year-old, 180-pound man who has four beers in an hour would blow .05 and a 30-year-old woman who weighs 130 pounds could blow it by drinking two glasses of wine in one hour. Likely because of Tuesday's sobering bus crash anniversary, many Kentucky Alcohol Beverage associations and Restaurant Associations we contacted said they were not ready to make a statement on the NTSB's recommendation yet.

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