Will South Carolina Lower the BAC Level?

Thomas Jeter • March 30, 2017

Will South Carolina Lower the BAC Level?

For the last few years, many states have been discussing and debating the possibility of lowering the acceptable blood alcohol concentration level from 0.08 to 0.05. While there have been loud voices and plenty of arguments on both sides, a strong factor may have just emerged that could sway the vote: Utah.

Utah’s decision to lower the level came after the National Transportation Safety Board made the recommendation to all states, cites NPR. The goal is to keep even more people from drinking while out and keep drunk drivers off the roads. The fact that this state was the first to follow the NTSB’s suggestion should come as no surprise, since it was also the first to lower the BAC limits from 0.1 to 0.08 percent, after which other states followed suit. The state’s governor also reminded readers that there are already 0.05 percent BAC limits in 85 percent of the world’s countries, with the United States being one of the remaining few with a higher accepted limit.

While the change is not set to be put into effect until the end of December 2018, people are already raising arguments. Some include the fact that a petite woman could be considered intoxicated after one strong drink. Others claim that restaurants will suffer from lack of alcohol sales. Supporters of the law claim that these fears all existed, but were never realized, the last time the BAC limit dropped.

With the state of Utah now on board with the lower number, it is much more likely that other states will soon adjust their own laws. Many are wondering if South Carolina will be one of them. Since the state leads the nation in drunk driving traffic fatalities, it remains a very real possibility. The Post and Courier reports that the state’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter’s vice president for public policy states that her group would be supportive of the change. She relates it to the fact that commercial drivers are already held to a lower level of 0.04 percent, so it only makes sense that the rest of the population should be held to similar standards.

Many people believe that unimpaired drivers would be unnecessarily ticketed, but the NTSB states that a change must take place in order to lower the number of drunk driving accidents which currently claim almost 33 percent of all highway deaths across the country. One motivating factor for the change came from a study the group did which found that drivers with a 0.05 percent BAC had a 38 percent higher chance of being in an accident. If South Carolina does switch to lower levels, it could mean many more DUIs for drivers in this state.