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Tennessee Lawmaker Climbs on Lower Blood Alcohol Bandwagon

The National Transportation Safety Board recently put its stamp of approval on the notion of lowering the allowable blood alcohol content level for drunk driving to just 0.05 percent. That would be almost half the current standard in all the United States of 0.08 percent.

Some predict it could be a tough standard to hit, but one Tennessee lawmaker says he's ready to charge up that hill next year. Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, says it's about time to take this kind of action. He says current efforts aren't working and too many people are dying as a result of accidents caused by people driving under the influence.

In making its recommendation earlier this month, the NTSB noted that more than 100 countries around the world already hold to the 0.05 percent BAC standard. Faison notes that Tennessee was one of the last states to adopt the 0.08 percent standard and that getting out in front of the issue next year would position the state as a leader in fighting drunk driving.

Even if the state doesn't adopt the lower BAC level, Faison says he'd like to see the state get tougher on those convicted of drunk driving. He says one provision he'd like to see is the forfeiture of vehicle for first-time DUI offenders. That's currently possible only after multiple convictions. The lawmaker, who lost a sister to a drunk driver, says it's a matter of the punishment fitting the crime.

We don't offer this item to take a position one way or the other on the question of lowering the BAC. Rather, we make note of it in the context of the implication it holds for anyone charged with a drinking and driving charge. The onus of proving the crime rests with the prosecution and it is not the task of the defendant to provide the evidence through a blood test.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, "Rep. Faison says he'll push for lowering DUI level to 0.05," Tom Humphrey, May 15, 2013