Proposal Would Lower Legal Limit on Drunk Driving to .05%

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- If your blood alcohol content is above .08 you know you're not supposed to get behind the wheel, but a federal agency thinks the law is failing to prevent fatal drunk driving accidents so it’s proposing changing the legal limit to .05.

"Something of that level, going to that drastic of a move lowering it down seems like an overkill," Kryptonite Owner Chris Wachowiak, said.

Wachowiak serves up hundreds of drinks a day, but he's worried his customers will leave if Illinois follows the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation to lower the impaired driving limit from .08 to .05.

"I think more people would be afraid saying I can't have a beer anymore in an hour, I'm afraid to drive home now," he said.

Brandon McKenna says he'd drink less if the limit changed, but supports the proposal.

"It would cause people to very easily get in trouble, but the grand scheme of things is to stop these terrible crimes and life changing events from happening and that's what's important," McKenna said.

The NTSB says each year nearly 10,000 people die in alcohol related car accidents. If every state lowered the legal limit to .05 the agency says 1,000 lives would be saved. That means most people couldn't have more than two beers in an hour.

Kryptonite has a breathalyzer machine that tells people when they've had too much. Wachowiak would rather have states mandate those machines instead of changing the limit.

"You're offering a visual deterrent, a visual reminder to say hey, it's here for our needs and our staff is trained to say, hey, go over here and take this to give you a good indication," Wachowiak said.

More than 100 countries have that .05 limit including Australia, most of Europe and South America. In most of those countries the legal drinking age is lower.

The NTSB has no authority in changing the legal limit. It's up to each state and there is no proposed bill in Illinois to change it to .05.

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