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State considers lowering BAC limit amid rising drunk driving deaths

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

With a 28% spike in alcohol-related traffic fatalities since 2019, New York lawmakers are pushing to lower the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving from .08 to .05.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The state recorded 252 deaths linked to drunken driving last year, compared to 181 in 2019.

Some lawmakers believe that aligning the state’s BAC threshold with over 100 other countries will significantly reduce accident rates.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) supports this viewpoint, stating that nationwide adoption of the .05 limit could save approximately 1,700 lives annually.


However, the proposal has faced opposition from the state’s restaurant and bar trade group, which argues that the legislation targets moderate drinkers instead of high BAC and repeat offenders.

They assert that such a measure might deter individuals from consuming even a single drink at establishments.

Despite this, advocates including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) contend that the bill will discourage drunk driving without preventing legal-age drinkers from consuming alcohol and driving.

As the debate continues, the existing law, termed “Driving While Ability Impaired,” already penalizes those with a BAC of .05, but its consequences are less severe than those for higher BAC levels.