by Vicki Powers

The liver has a limit to the amount of alcohol it can process per hour. The remainder enters the blood stream. This is how blood alcohol content (BAC) is measured. A simple alcohol consumption guideline is one standard drink an hour. Drink a six pack, and it will take six hours to get sober.

The United States set 0.08% BAC as the legal limit. In a surprising move, Utah reduced the state’s BAC legal limit to 0.05% just a year ago from 0.08%. The first and only state. While this reduced number doesn’t keep people from drinking, articles reveal it does make people rethink how they travel home after drinking.

A 0.05% BAC legal limit is most common and found in Western European countries. Around the world, however, BAC legal limits vary. Japan and a few others have a 0.03% BAC limit while China, Sweden, and Poland are set at 0.02% BAC limit. The lower the BAC limits, the lower the incident rate, according to NTSB’s .05% BAC Safety Briefing.

Goal: Zero Traffic Deaths
In 2017, 39 percent of the total fatalities in Texas were by alcohol-impaired drivers blowing 0.08% BAC. The state has issued a goal to end traffic deaths by 2050 with its #EndTheStreak campaign. The financial cost of getting arrested for a DWI in Texas is around $17,438, according to Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo. But that doesn’t serve as a deterrent for many who continue to get DWIs.

Unfortunately, Houston is notorious for fatal drunk-driving incidents. Based on a Houston Chronicle investigation analyzing data from 2001-2016, the Houston region tops the list of the most fatal drunken driving crashes compared to any other large metro area in the United States. Mayor Turner adopted Vision Zero Houston that aims to end traffic fatalities in Houston by 2030.

These are some major goals that need radical changes.

Would a lower BAC help reduce drunk driving incidents in Texas? What will it take? First is education. People need to know what a standard drink size is as well as how much they can drink for their gender and weight before hitting the legal limit. Visit here to determine your limit.

Our sobering center plays a role in the equation as well. 90 percent of the people who are brought to the sobering center by law enforcement are professionals who visit one time. Many say “I had no idea I was drinking that much.”  Think what would happen if they had gotten into their cars and drove home?