Drunk Driving Laws Are About Profit, Not Safety

The blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) for sober driving (as opposed to drunk driving) is 0.08 for most of the country. Utah, however, decided to lower its BAC for sober driving to 0.05 and now neoprohibitionists want that standard set throughout the entire country:

The U.S. government-commissioned report by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine made multiple recommendations, including significantly lowering drunken driving thresholds. It calls for lowering the blood-alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05. All states have 0.08 thresholds.

But there’s a slight problem:

A Utah law passed last year that lowers the state’s threshold to 0.05 doesn’t go into effect until Dec. 30.

Utah’s arbitrary definition of drunk driving isn’t in effect yet so there’s no way an argument can be made that lowering the BAC to 0.05 reduces incidents of drunk driving. So if there’s no data indicating that Utah’s law is helping the situation, why is anybody arguing in favor of taking that law to the federal level? Money.

When somebody is charged with drunk driving they weren’t necessarily drunk. The dictionary definition of drunk is, “affected by alcohol to the extent of losing control of one’s faculties or behavior.” The legal definition of drunk is having a BAC over 0.08. Those two definitions are entirely unrelated. Alcohol affects different people in different ways. Some people are lightweights and a BAC of 0.08 impairs them while others aren’t impaired at all by a BAC of 0.08. If the real concern were dangerous driving, the law arbitrarily declaring drunkenness would be tossed out and the law against reckless driving would be used instead. But that would severely cut into government profits because it wouldn’t allow it to issue citations unless somebody was actually impaired.

Lowering the BAC for sober driving wouldn’t address the problem of dangerous drivers. It would increase government profits though, which is the actual reason such laws are sought after by politicians and the panels they commission.