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Report encourages changes to drunk driving laws

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggested lowering the legal blood alcohol content in the United States. If its recommendation was adopted, Iowa residents would need to keep their BAC under .05 percent if they wish to operate a motor vehicle. For women this would limit their intake to two drinks prior to driving while men would be limited to two or three drinks.

The .05 percent threshold has been passed into law in Utah, but the new legal limit won't go into effect until Dec. 30. How many drinks it would take to reach the .05 percent limit depends on many variables. For instance, a man weighing 160 pounds could consume two drinks while a man weighing 180 pounds would be able to consume three drinks. A person's blood alcohol content may also be influenced by whether or not he or she has eaten prior to drinking.

Other recommendations in the report include increasing alcohol taxes and making alcohol less convenient to acquire. This may be done by limiting where alcohol can be served and limiting the number of hours bars are allowed to be open. It is expected that these suggestions and others will not be received kindly by groups such as the American Beverage Institute.

Those who are charged with driving while intoxicated may face many different penalties if convicted. These penalties may include a fine, jail or prison time and a license suspension or revocation. An attorney may be able to create defenses against the charge. These defenses may include an assertion that a driver had a medical condition that mimicked the effects of impairment such as slurred speech. It may also be possible to question the results or handling of a blood or Breathalyzer test.

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