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The trend of lowering BAC has a long history

As we have discussed in past blog posts, Utah became the first state to lower the legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.05% last December. We also reported that the state of California is not far behind, as they have proposed legislation to reduce the BAC as well.

Although only two states so far have moved in the direction of lowering the legal limit, is it possible that this trend could expand across the U.S.?

Will the trend of lowering BAC continue?

These recent cases of states lowering their legal BAC limits are not isolated events. In fact, this trend has a long history.

  • In the early 1900s, the general BAC limit across the country was 0.15%. And it was not until the 1970s that activist groups and lawmakers proposed lowering the BAC limit.
  • The current legal limit for Tennessee, and most other states, of 0.08% was not established until the late 1990s.
  • More recently, the National Transportation Safety Board actually recommended in 2013 that all states should lower their BAC to 0.05%.

The trend to lower the legal BAC limit is nothing new. However, reducing the BAC to such low limits is new territory for all states.

But is lowering the BAC effective?

The trend to decrease the legal limit may not be a new movement. However, there are still many reservations regarding whether it is truly effective. Many lawmakers and several studies believe it is.

Yet, there are plenty of examples that prove otherwise. In July, Utah news reports stated that DUI arrests were actually increasing under the new law, instead of decreasing.

These contrasting views and reports could slow the effect this trend will have on the rest of the U.S. However, it is doubtful that the debate will stop the trend completely. For now, Tennessee's BAC remains at 0.08%. And if the history of this trend informs its future, it could potentially take years to lower the BAC limit in our state.

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