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Study shows public support for lower DWI limits

Drunk driving crashes in the U.S. claim 29 lives every day and cost the economy about $44 billion each year. Motorists with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher are considered impaired in North Carolina and the other states, but this figure is far too high according to the National Transportation Safety Board and a growing number of advocacy groups. The NTSB has long called for the drunk driving threshold to be reduced to .05 percent to bring it more into line with the laws of other developed nations, but Utah is the only state that has actually taken this step.

The NTSB says that as many as 1,800 lives could be saved each year if all states followed Utah's example and lowered their drunk driving limit to .05 percent. A poll conducted by researchers at the Texas Medical Center shows that most Americans are in favor of stricter DWI laws and 46 percent would support legislation that would make driving after consuming any alcohol at all a criminal act.

The study also reveals widespread public support for police sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices. An overwhelming 84 percent of the respondents said that convicted drunk drivers should be required to install ignition interlocks in their vehicles, and 77 percent of them felt that drivers who installed the devices voluntarily should receive some sort of insurance discount.

Blood alcohol concentrations are measured by extremely sophisticated equipment, but that does not mean the results of toxicology tests cannot be challenged. Criminal defense attorneys may question breath or blood test results when strict protocols have not been followed or their clients suffer from medical conditions that could skew the results. Attorneys could also check maintenance logs to find out if breath testing equipment was tested and properly calibrated before it was used.

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