Posts Tagged ‘DUI’

Why Does .05 BAC Make A Difference?

The NTSB is recommending that States lower blood-alcohol-content (BAC) to 0.05. The nationwide standard is currently 0.08. The US is one of the few countries to have 0.08 limit:

The United States, Canada and Iraq are among a small handful of countries that have set the BAC level at .08. Most countries in Europe, including Russia, most of South America and Australia, have set BAC levels at .05 to constitute drunken driving.

When Australia dropped its BAC level from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5-18 percent drop in traffic fatalities.

Australia enacted the 0.05 law in 1991. The interesting thing is that a lot of the reduction in fatalities was from drivers having BAC in the greater than  .08 range:


A similar reduction was found in roadside random breath tests:


It should be noted that the law did not change at all for drivers with BAC .08 and higher. It was only for .05-.o8 levels that the law changed. The rationale from the NTSB is that there are biological reasons for reducing the BAC level to .05, but it is possible there are other factors that explain the reduction in fatalities.

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Ambien Zombie Drivers

After drinking 5 or 6 glasses of wine, Julie Bronson downed an Ambien sleeping pill. At some point, she then got into a car and ran over three family members in their front yard. 18-month-old Ava Lopez, who was with her mother as she did yard work, suffered severe brain damage.

Bronson got off on probation using the controversial “Ambien defense“:

Bronson is far from the first person to have acted strangely and without memory while using a therapeutic dose of Ambien, testified Dr. Janci Lindsay, a biochemist and toxicology expert hired by the defense to review the case. In 2008, the company changed its patient brochure to more explicitly warn users that side-effects in some cases have included sleep-walking, sleep-eating, sleep-driving, sleep-sex and sleep-talking on the phone.

Some 44 million Americans are Ambien pill poppers, and all across the country the “Ambien defense” is being used in criminal cases. The most famous was a 2006 case of Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island and son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. And the Mercury News yesterday reported on the case of Kevin Robertson in another Ambien acquittal.

Is this a case of juries running amok, or is there a serious problem with the medication? Hard to say — Bronson had taken alcohol even though instructed not to. And Robertson had previously been involved in an Ambien-related accident.

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MADB – Sacramento

Sacramento has joined Santa Rosa in the War Against Drunk Cyclists.

CHP officers last week charged seven bicyclists with riding under the influence during a one-night crackdown in Sacramento.

CHP has received State and Federal grants for this program targeting the Drunk Cyclist Menace.

How serious a problem is this?

When asked whether this was an effective use of police time, Quintero says absolutely.

“You can have severe injuries and or death when you have bicyclists” collide with cars, he says. “When we get these individuals off the streets, we’re also protecting the community.

For police departments looking to ramp up DUI arrest numbers, bicyclists are an easy target. Police know that anyone leaving a bar at 2am on a bicycle is somebody who probably just had his driver’s license suspended for DUI.

In California, the law does not distinguish between bikes and cars. Even though a bicycle weighs thousands of pounds less than an automobile, the violator will still have to pay thousands in court costs to local and State government — making this program a nice revenue generator.

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fat_tire_labelThe Good News: Santa Rosa (CA) received a half million dollar grant to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety.

The Bad News: The police dept. focus will be drunk bicyclists.

The two outreach specialists have already been hired from within the police department, Schlief said, and they will be organizing events ranging from presentations to schools and senior citizen groups to a community education “summit.” The $470,000 program’s chief aim, he said, is to reduce injuries, keep bicycle or pedestrian fatalities to zero and raise community awareness. It will also target bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which he termed a growing problem.

I’d love to see the SWITRS data showing drunk cyclists as a top safety threat to road users in Santa Rosa.

Meanwhile, here is what Petaluma will be doing with its $200k safety grant:

This grant project will target DUI offenders, specifically habitual DUI offenders, and speeding violations, with and emphasis on motorcycle speeding violations, by using laser radar units. “This will be done through the sobriety checkpoints, warrant service operations, DUI probation and parole checks, stakeouts of habitual DUI offenders and court stings targeting DUI offenders with suspended or revoked licenses who get behind the wheel after leaving court,” Savano said.

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