New proposal on BAC draws mixed C.O. reaction

Police favor tighter standard; others think current limit too strict

DUII crackdown brings mixed reaction

BEND, Ore. - Oregon was one of the first states to adopt the .08 rules for the legal limit on alcohol back in 1983, and while it's too early to say what will happen with a federal agency's new .05 proposal, NewsChannel 21 wanted to talk with bar owners and police about their thoughts.

As you can imagine bar owners are not very happy with the National Transportation Safety Board proposal.

No one wanted to go on camera Tuesday, but many say they believe the current law is already too strict.

Police, on the other hand, say the limit would set a new standard that impaired driving is not okay.

"We are losing too many people every year," said Bend police Lt. Chris Carney. "We have finally gotten it down to 10,000 (deaths a year nationwide), but is that a good thing?"

The new proposal by the National Transportation Safety Board urges states to lower the blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05.

The board says that one move would save 1,000 lives a year.

"I like the message that .05 sends to our community and everyone else, that it's not okay to be out driving while impaired," Carney said.

According to a chart posted by Clemson University, a 180-pound man would only be able to consume three drinks in one hour before reaching that limit. For a woman weighing 140 pounds, it would only take two drinks.

Carney says the current limit does noting but validate impairment for some people .

"If you get somebody out there who doesn't drink and all of a sudden goes out and starts consuming alcohol, (at) .02, .04, they can be severely impaired and really go out and cause a crash and kill somebody," Carney said. "Where people would be going, 'But they weren't .08.' No, it's the impairment."

Community members we talked to were split on the idea.

"I guess I don't see the need for it. It seems .08 is fine," said Chuck Underwood. "I don't see a whole lot of people getting pulled over for DUIIs."

"I think it's going to be good and help out in keeping the roads a little bit safer," said David Riehl. "Which in this area generally, I don't think is an issue. But overall throughout the country, I think it would be a good idea"

Carney said, "What I hope though, is if anything, it brings up those talking points again and gets that idea out there to the community -- think before you drink."

It's a lesson many in the community are already following.

"I've never been able to tell what .05 and .08 and what the difference would actually be," said Matt Liska. "But I try to say, if I've had more than two beers, I shouldn't get into a car."

"I'm responsible," said Underwood. "I make sure that if I'm going to be drinking that much that I have somebody that is going to drive, and if I don't have somebody who can drive then I don't (drink)."

No matter what happens to the legal limit, police want to remind you: If you are going to go out and drink, get a designated driver first.

Be sure to take a stand on the issue in our new KTVZ.COM Poll, found on the right side of our home page.

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