What Is Drunk Driving in Maryland? NTSB Wants to Lower Legal Limit to Reduce Alcohol Related Accidents and Deaths

All 50 states, including Maryland, define drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent as a crime. Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to lower that threshold to .05 BAC to further reduce the number of drunk driving accident injuries and deaths. Currently about 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed every year in alcohol related motor vehicle crashes. The NTSB feels those are 10,000 good reasons to re-examine the nation’s legal definition of drunken driving.

In the early 1980s, public safety awareness groups brought more attention to the issue of drunk driving, with many states establishing a rate of .15 BAC to demonstrate intoxication. Over the next two decades, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) brought more attention to this deadly traffic safety problem, with all states adopting a .08 BAC by 2004.

According to CNN.com, “The number of alcohol-related highway fatalities…dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to 9,878 in 2011, the NTSB said.”

At .08 BAC, a 180-pound man is likely to hit the legal limit if he consumes about four drinks in one hour. If the legal limit were lowered to .05 BAC, that same man could reach the threshold for being legally drunk after two to three drinks in the same time period.

Restaurant industry representatives object to the NTSB’s recommendation, saying that many women, due to their size, would reach the legal limit after just one drink. The safety board counters that more than 100 countries on six continents have set BAC limits at 0.05 or lower. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a new chart showing that at a BAC of .05, drivers show “reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, (and) reduced response to emergency driving situations.”

Also, other factors come into play in drunk driving accident cases, such as whether the driver was on medication at the time of the crash, as well as prior history of drunk driving arrests.

Maryland Drunken Driving Laws

Despite all states having the current .08 BAC legal limit on their books, traffic laws and penalties vary from state to state. Maryland’s drunk driving laws are actually tougher than in some states. For example, drivers who are caught with a higher BAC (.15) may be subject to increased penalties and, if convicted, must use an ignition interlock device. Maryland also enforces a 45-day administrative suspension of driver’s license for first offenders, with limited driving privileges during the suspension period. Of note: 154 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Maryland in 2010 (Source: Maryland Traffic Safety Facts 2006 – 2010, NHTSA).

Related Baltimore Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Articles:

Maryland Bill Targets Drunk Drivers Who Transport Minors, Proposes Ignition Locks (Dec. 2012)

Maryland Car Accident Death Rates Down, But Many Traffic Safety Challenges Remain (Jan. 2012)


Tougher drunk-driving threshold proposed to reduce traffic deaths
CNN.com May 15, 2013
Drunken-Driving Limit Should Be Lowered to .05, NTSB Says
Bloomberg News May 14, 2013
Related Web Resources:

Governors Highway Safety Association May 2013:

Drunk Driving Laws by State

Maryland Drunk Driving Laws

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