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Panel recommends lowering threshold for drunk driving

New York drivers may be charged for drunk driving with a much lower alcohol content if states follow recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration commissioned the report as part of an effort to reduce drunk driving deaths. From the 1980s through the early 2000s, drunk driving deaths declined, but in recent years, they have been on the rise. There are around 10,000 fatalities related to drunk driving each year, and experts say they could be prevented.

One of the panel's recommendations was lowering the legal blood alcohol content limit to .05 percent. Alcohol tolerance is related to weight and what a person has eaten among other things, but it would take most women over 120 pounds two drinks and most men over 180 three drinks to reach the threshold. The panel also recommended increasing alcohol tax, reducing the times when alcohol can be sold, limiting alcohol marketing and increasing enforcement that prohibits sales to people under 21 or who are visibly intoxicated.

In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board said Europe had halved its drunk driving fatalities by introducing a .05 percent limit. Nearly half of all U.S. deaths from drunk driving happen on rural roads. An average of nearly 30 deaths per day are related to drunk driving, and more than one-quarter of traffic deaths are attributable to alcohol.

A DWI conviction can be serious. People may lose their licenses, pay fines and even spend time in jail depending on how serious the charges are and whether they have been convicted before. For people in some career fields, a DWI conviction could have implications for their job. People charged with DWI may want to talk to an attorney about whether the charges could be reduced or dropped.

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