National agency proposes changing legal alcohol limit - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

National agency proposes changing legal alcohol limit

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Earlier this week the National Transportation Safety Board issued some recommendations to curb drinking and driving.

Among those is a change to the legal limit lowering it from 0.08 to 0.05.

The proposal to drop the national blood alcohol legal limit to 0.05 could change the law, but it wouldn't change the reason police pull you over in the first place.

"Not really.  Our enforcement is based on driving behaviors.  When an officer stops a vehicle, it's based on either violating some other law, possibly an equipment violation," says officer Kyle Roder of the Eau Claire Police Department.

Police actually don't issue a ticket for a B.A.C. violation until after they complete a field sobriety test.

"That initial investigation on the road is what we determine the arrest on.  We then would take the individual to the hospital for a blood draw," explains Roder.

It's at this point the difference between 0.05 and 0.08 comes into play.

"When the blood returns, if it's over that alcohol limit, that 0.08, they essentially get issued a second citation," says Roder.

A fine line the Tavern League of Wisconsin strongly opposes and isn't willing to cross.

"Our feeling is, if the feds want to push this, let's the states push it.  You know the feds have more of a mess to deal with, let's make this a state issue," says Tavern League of Wisconsin northern zone vice president Rob Summerfield.

In fact the Tavern League has called it a prohibition movement and worries a 0.05 maximum could hurt business.

"Two drinks, a bite to eat on a Friday night fish fry and this in turn would just devastate our industry," says Summerfield.

For now though it's only a proposal, the one constant in this controversy is the job police have to do.

"We're currently in one of those phases right now both for speed enforcement, as well as for alcohol enforcement.  We will be out most nights and weekends," says Roder.

Patrolling regardless of the legal limit.

Other measures the National Transportation Safety Board is suggesting include improving interlock devices for repeat offenders and allowing authorities to immediately revoke drivers licenses' at the time of a DWI arrest.

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